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About that European digital ID
In which the Dutch government displays its ill-disguised contempt for public opinion and forges ahead with yet another EU agenda item in a manner guaranteed to provoke suspicions
On 30 November, the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch Lower House, passed a motion instructing the national government to reject a proposal concerning the introduction of a European digital ID, something that has apparently been in the pipeline in Brussels for quite some years. Our parliamentarians appeared to have some serious misgivings with regard to privacy and other matters. The government refused to implement the motion.
Adding fuel to the fire, a week or so later, Alexandra van Huffelen (D66), who holds the post Secretary of State for Crown Relations and Digitalization (Staatssecretaris van Koninkrijksrelaties en Digitalisering) in the current Cabinet, traveled to Brussels to discuss further steps in the implementation of the digital ID. “I’m happy the way things are going,” she chirped enthusiastically in a short clip posted on her Twitter. Don't worry, it will be voluntary, she assured Dutch Twitter. Her party, D66, is generally considered the most fervently pro-EU of the governing coalition; pro-Davos, some would put it.
The indefatigable Renske Leijten, (Socialist Party), who submitted the motion, was not amused and demanded a new debate. An activist posted a short clip on Twitter of a parliamentarian of whom I was previously unaware, Roelof Bisschop, of the center-right SGP (Reformed Protestant Party), reacting furiously in parliament to the governments actions. Newspaper columnist and chatty YouTube podcaster Marianne Zwagerman wrote (my translation):
When one of the most constructive and restrained members of Tweede Kamer, Roelof Bisschop of SGP, angrily responds that "the fundamental rights of the Kamer are being eroded" and that the ruling coalition is "defanging the Kamer", there’s not much left of our democracy.
The first thought that came to mind when I saw all this was: these days the conspiracy theories write themselves. You can practically hear people asking: So what do they have up their sleeves now? The more our governments act in such an imperious fashion, hostile, or at the very least indifferent, to process, to transparency, to meaningful accountability, the more suspicious the public gets, wholly unsurprisingly so. The frontal assault on the vast Dutch agricultural industry that has gained so much attention worldwide is exactly the same: an EU directive handed down from on high, to be pushed through without any kind of genuine public mandate. They don’t try to convince us, only manipulate and cajole us. Our governing class does not seem to understand: When you push invasive policies without self-evident benefits to the public at large, you invite people to question your motives. You invite us to conspiracy theorize. As many now are.
Those of us who during the past year or two sought news and analysis from outside the censorious bubble of the legacy state and corporate media, for which, among other sites, Substack is a wonderful source, if I may say, saw during the course of 2021 growing skepticism about national lockdown strategies and pandemic policy more generally. We’ve since learned that digital vaccination status systems were pushed very hard; apparently the EU bureaucrats thought the pandemic was a unique opportunity not to be squandered to move forward with their long-cherished European digital ID. That in turn would, in theory at least, pave the way for the introduction of an ECB Central Bank Digital Currency, which would potentially enable our lords and masters to fundamentally restructure our wobbling and increasingly fragile financial system on their terms. Their Great Reset, not ours. It's a scenario that could result in further drastic economic concentration and truly draconian societal control. How plausible is it? We don't know, we can only speculate. Again, as many are.
Perhaps this is all just a storm in the tiny teacup that is Holland. One thing however should now be abundantly clear: concerns about online privacy, digital security, surveillance capitalism, data gathering and related matters are not going away; they have in fact become mainstream, as we now see with the Dutch parliament, as we did last summer with the French parliament, institutions which within the framework of our current liberal democracies have of late not been particularly radical or vigilant in their resistance such incursions in our lives, to put it mildly. The EU technocrats may push ahead with their questionable schemes, driven by unclear motives, but resistance is growing.
The Covid-19 crisis may be over, but the politics of the pandemic have a very long tail. The Dutch upper house (Senaat) will be voting on a proposal (pandemiwet) early next month to make various temporary pandemic response measures permanently enshrined in law.
Appended below is the rather anodyne description of the proposed EU digital ID system from an official website. Our national parliaments definitely need to continue to ask inconvenient questions.
The European Digital Identity will be available to EU citizens, residents, and businesses who want to identify themselves or provide confirmation of certain personal information. It can be used for both online and offline public and private services across the EU. Every EU citizen and resident in the Union will be able to use a personal digital wallet.
Every time an App or website asks us to create a new digital identity or to easily log on via a big platform, we have no idea what happens to our data in reality. That is why the Commission will propose a secure European e-identity. One that we trust and that any citizen can use anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying your taxes to renting a bicycle. A technology where we can control ourselves what data is used and how.
— Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in her State of the Union address, 16 September 2020
Benefits of the European Digital Identity
The right of every person eligible for a national ID card to have a digital identity that is recognised anywhere in the EU
A simple and safe way to control how much information you want to share with services that require sharing of information
Operated via digital wallets available on mobile phone apps and other devices to:
identify online and offline
store and exchange information provided by governments e.g. name, surname, date of birth, nationality
store and exchange the information provided by trusted private sources
use the information as confirmation of the right to reside, to work, or to study in a certain Member State