Legal Tech Lab

Putting humans first

Digitalisation of government services from the citizen's perspective

4 apr 2022 00:00 | Kenniscentrum Maatschappij en Recht

Trust is a core component of human relations. Over the past years, there have been several major scandals in the Netherlands that have hurt the citizens’ trust in the authorities. In the northern province of Groningen, for instance, the authorities were slow to pay compensation for the damage caused by earthquakes to the homes of thousands of residents. The earthquakes had been brought on by the sinking ground following decades of gas extraction. Possibly even more damaging was the so-called childcare benefits scandal. Due to a combination of rigid regulations, the use of defective algorithms and data for detecting fraud - wrongly accusing no less than 26,000 families of fraud – and the distrustful attitude of the implementing officials, several thousands of families were required to pay back large amounts, which drove some of them in financial hardship. Moreover, the families received inadequate protection from the judiciary. The scandal led to the resignation of the third Rutte cabinet. In November 2021, the highest administrative court apologised to the affected families: a first in Dutch legal history.