Government bans TikTok (sort of), Facebook has a bad day in court, and civil society organisations mobilise against Big Tech

Read through the most interesting developments at the intersection of human rights and technology from the Netherlands. This is the third update in this series.

By Bits of Freedom (guest author) · May 17, 2023

Big Tech’s harmful impact on civic dicourse and civil society organizations

Civil society organizations need to be able to partake in civic discourse. Bits of Freedom regularly receives signals indicating that organisations’ and activists’ freedom of communication online isn’t sufficiently protected and so decided to investigate how big this problem actually is.

Over the past months, more than twenty civil society organizations active in the Netherlands came together to discuss the impact of large online platforms on their work. Bits of Freedoom facilitated the conversations with Public Interest Litigation Project and in March shared the initial outcomes.

Activists and organisations participated from movements fighting for women’s rights, climate justice, anti-racism, and the rights of migrants and undocumented people. The conversations surfaced a clear, but also troubling, picture.

And the similarities between movements were striking. The four most pressing issues are the impact of recommender systems, content moderation, online hate, and a high degree of dependency. Find out more here.


Court rules Facebook operated illegally

Consumer rights organisation Consumentenbond and Data Privacy Stichting took Facebook to court for the abuse of the personal data of its users.

On March 15, the court ruled that, between 2010 and 2020, Facebook didn’t have a legal basis for using its users’ data for advertising, and for processing sensitive data such as religion and sexual orientation. The court also found Facebook to have misled users about its practice of sharing user data with third parties.

The court ruled against Consumentbond on the topic of Facebook placing cookies on third party websites, arguing that it’s not Facebook, but the website owner that needs to get permission from visitors for those. Consumentenbond and Data Privacy Stichting wish to enter into discussions about compensation for the 190.000 people that signed up to the case, while Meta has announced plans to appeal.

And finally…

The Dutch government plans to prohibit the use of TiKTok on government-issued smartphones, and we celebrated the 20-year anniversary of European Digital Rights.

This article was first published here by Bits of Freedom.

Contribution by: Evelyn Austin, Executive Director, EDRi member, Bits of Freedom