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The majority of Dutch people (60%) don't know where they can express concerns about digital technologies such as DigiD, social media, or the rollout of 5G. Dutch people are particularly concerned about safety and privacy, and a majority believe that citizens have little influence on the development of technological standards (63%). This is according to a survey conducted by I&O Research on behalf of the NWO-funded research project IN-SIGHT hosted at the UvA.

60% don’t know where they can raise concerns

Most Dutch people (60%) don’t know where they can raise concerns about digital technologies. Almost none of the respondents said they were ‘not worried at all’ about the role of digital technologies in society, while over half were worried or very worried. Privacy and cyber security were their biggest causes for concern (71%), followed by companies’ use of personal data and information (57%).

‘There are actually avenues available for raising concerns’, says Stefania Milan, professor of Critical Data Studies at the UvA and IN-SIGHT programme leader. ‘But they are hard to find or not accessible enough for citizens to actually report issues there.’

49% of Dutch (often young and highly educated) have a low level of digital self-sufficiency

According to the survey, just under half of the Dutch population can be categorised as having a low level of self-sufficiency when it comes to using digital technology. People in this group less often take measures to protect themselves, for example, such as by changing passwords, using a VPN or deleting cookies. But at the same time, they have stronger concerns about the use of digital technologies and are more likely to say they want to use them as little as possible. People in this group often rate their own knowledge of digital technologies lower and are relatively often young (18 to 24 years old), female and more highly educated.

Technology should be safe and secure

When it comes to the design of digital technologies, safety and security are seen as the most important values (68%). In addition, according to a large group (57%), privacy and data protection should be central to the design of this technology. Four in ten respondents felt that more attention should be paid to human rights when designing digital technologies, and a similar proportion felt that digital technology can have a discriminatory effect.

Copyright: Stefania Milan
'We generally don’t take any steps to change our use of digital technology' Stefania Milan, Professor of Critical Data Studies at the Department of Media Studies

Half of Dutch people have never heard of standardisation processes

Technological tools and services must comply with certain standards that guarantee safe use, interoperability and, for example, climate-friendly development of services and products. According to Milan, these standards are key to the safe and accessible development of services. Yet half of respondents said they had never heard of them. Respondents were asked if they felt they had influence on the development of DigiD and 5G. 7% felt they had influence on the development of DigiD and 6% felt this was the case for 5G. Most respondents felt the development of 5G was influenced by tech companies (71%), and the development of DigiD by the government (76%). Those are striking findings, says Milan. ‘There are opportunities for citizens to have a say in the development of digital identity standards, for example, but few people know about this.’

Users, educate yourselves

According to Milan, users need to educate themselves about digital services. ‘Increasing digital literacy is a responsibility of governments and the industry, but also of users themselves’, she says. ‘As users, we to some extent distrust the devices into which we pour endless amounts of private data, but we generally don’t take any steps to change our use of them accordingly.’

More information

Contact UvA Press Office for more information on experts involved.