Information evening over SyRI in Rotterdam

On June 19, 2019, the PILP-NJCM was at the information evening, which was organised by the FNV, the largest Dutch Trade Union, about the use of SyRI in the Rotterdam districts of Hillesluis and Bloemhof. The meeting was meant to inform the people in the neighbourhood about the System Risk Indication (SyRI), about the use of SyRI in their neighbourhoods and about the proceedings that the FNV started together with, among others, the Platform Bescherming Burgerrechten and the PILP-NJCM, against the State about this system. There are so many issues concerning privacy involved with SyRI, that these organisations believe it should be stopped completely. On top of that, SyRI seems to be mainly used in poor districts, where most of the local residents are not white.

SyRI was used in Hillesluis en Bloemhof in 2018. Of the about 25.000 local residents, 1263 addresses were flagged as a risk report. These households have, according to SyRI, an increased chance or risk to fraud and offences and are placed in the register of risk reports. The municipality of Rotterdam announced that an intervention team of the social police will visit these households. When and at what houses this will happen is unclear for the local residents. They also question the use of SyRI in their districts, what the consequences are, how this affects their right to privacy and if whether this amounts to discriminatory treatment. You can also read this Dutch article of Trouw on the information evening.

The FNV and the local residents are therefore acting against SyRI. The evening started with a protest march from the Mosque in the neighbourhood to the community centre. Here, Tijmen Wisman of the Platform Bescherming Burgerrechten and Merel Hendrickx of the PILP-NJCM told the residents about what SyRI actually does and why they, together with a coalition of, among others, privacy organisations and the FNV, started proceedings against the State on this system. They invite the residents to come to the hearing on October 29, 2019. Merel Hendrickx: ‘SyRI, big data, dragnets and predictive policing are complex and theoretical concepts. The same is true for the possible human rights violations caused by such systems. In these districts, however, you see the people against whom such systems are being used and the actual pain this causes. This shows why SyRI has to be stopped and declared unlawful in court.’