The government should share more personal data, not less

'It seems paradoxical to share more personal data, but having this centralized will enable the government to improve services.' - Michiel Overgaag


The storage and processing of personal data by government and implementing agencies leaves much to be desired. Too often we read in the media about a data leak or careless handling of data by government agencies. This fuels citizen distrust of the government. This while more data should be shared within the government to prevent abuses. This seems paradoxical, but regulating this centrally enables the government to improve services.

No Standard

There is in fact no standard for how data is stored. The implementing organizations all have their own administration and protocols on data handling, with just as many risks of leaks occurring. When data does need to be shared between implementing organizations, this is often done at the level of emailing each other encrypted Excel files, because data exchange is impeded by mutual Chinese Walls constructions. Because each organization has its own source administration, and thus its own information starting point, data are often not up-to-date.

If someone moves or changes family composition, this is often known to the municipal administration, but not to other agencies. We could have a more efficient government with better-targeted services if all that data were centrally managed and (partially) shared with the appropriate agencies. For example, information about citizens with intractable debts could be shared with municipalities so that they could offer debt restructuring and take it into account when assessing municipal taxes.

Sharing Data Is Not Scary
It is understandable that advocating for an expansion of data sharing may seem scary and evoke resistance. But if you look at the electronic health record, you can see that it works well in practice. However, it is then the government's responsibility to build a foolproof system and think carefully about the necessary protocols and authentication regarding data access.

Cause: Increased insight with 'who uses my data'