If you would have asked me in 2013 where you should start your internet startup I would have proudly said: The Netherlands. We ranked very high when it comes to digital infrastructure, broadband penetration, adoption rates of technology, government stimulation packages, access to talent and judicial infrastructure like net neutrality and privacy. That last part is the part I would like to address here.
In 2012 we were the first country in Europe to have a true net neutrality law. We have a data protection agency which actually sued Google in 2012 because it violated privacy. We ranked second in the freedom of press ranking in 2013. We basically had one of the highest privacy ratings in the world, but a lot changed since 2013.
If you value your customers privacy don’t start your startup in the Netherlands (or take a masterclass privacy by design)
The strange thing is that most of these things aren’t weighed by a judge anymore. It’s up to the minister to give permission.
The law not only has huge implications for Dutch civilians, it also has a huge impact on internationally focused Dutch startups as they fall under the proposed Dutch law.
Let me point out a few things here.
The NSA has a $ 10,8 billion budget and two independent studies have and I quote here: “not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the NSA program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
I doubt the Dutch are going to do any better here. It is an utter waste of money and it totally sacrifices privacy. The Dutch CBP – a government organization that monitors the protection of personal data – says that the current counter terrorism laws have had no use so far and says the fact that we still have the laws “worrisome”.
Principles of legality require all law to be clear, ascertainable and non-retrospective. It is the foundation of democracy and the rule of Law. The new law proposal literally crumbles the foundation of the rule of Law and democracy.
It also undermines the separation of powers – trias politica – because it does not separate the roles of legislature, executive and judiciary, since the minister can make judicial decisions.
Art. 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights gives us the right to privacy.
Art. 19: of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights gives us a right for Freedom of speech. Knowing that a government is listening in by default undermines that right.
Yes it could. The new law is under consultation. You can react to the proposal. There are currently 67 public reactions. There need to be a lot more. Make others aware of the impact of the proposal. Others can be startups, your telecom- and/or internet provider, judges, politicians and the press.
If we can get foolish laws struck down, we can prevent them from becoming a reality in the first place. Until we do, you should consider founding your startup in Iceland and found the startup development team in Groningen 😉
P.S. The Hague, if you are reading: Startup weekend The Hague is a very serious invitation.
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