Protect your Privacy

Protect your Privacy

By Anna Montagne

I travel a lot by train. And yes, I’m a poor student who makes use of “WiFi in de trein” (WiFi on the train) because there is no way that I have money to survive my three hour trip on 4G. Train WiFi is a super unsafe connection, by the way. Any ICT-student would probably be able to hack my smartphone while I’m using it (but I’m naive enough to think that’s something that never happens).

Occasionally, I catch myself watching my fellow travellers laptop- or phone screen. I think it’s extremely annoying when someone does that to me, but (hypocrite as I am) I’m a very curious person.

A few weeks ago I was travelling in a crowded train to Zwolle. Next to me was a girl, that tried multiple times to connect her laptop to train WiFi. After 5 attempts she could finally connect and she simply logged in to her insurance account. I quickly looked away when she entered her password, I thought that was going too far. Next, she emailed her doctor. After that she logged in to her bank account. There I discovered she was borrowing maximum student grants (good job!). Then came the worst: the girl requested an address change within the municipality of Groningen.

In just one hour, during my traintrip from Groningen to Zwolle, I found out the following details about this girl: her name, where she was insuranced, at which bank she was a member, how much money she got on her account and her new and old address.

A little disclaimer: I am extremely curious by nature. I’m not a crazy stalker, don’t worry. 

I intend no harm and I would never use her personal information. I spied just because I was bored and curious.

Since the 1st of January a new law entered in the Netherlands, the law on Intelligence and Security Services (Wet op de Inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten; Wiv). This law provides Secret Services access to communication data of innocent individuals. They intercept loads of ‘useless’ information, while looking for suspicious expressions. It is therefore a form of counterterrorism. All this unnecessary data from guiltless citizens is caught in a sort of imaginary dragnet. For a very clear explanation of this law, make sure to check out this video of Arjen Lubach, with subtitles!

Compare this dragnet full of useless information with my spying behaviour in the train: I have no bad intentions and I would never use the data of the girl, that’s for sure.

This Wiv law and the Security Services would never do something with your personal information they might have access to… They wouldn’t do anything with the results of your STD test, they would never look at that nude photo you sent to your boyfriend and they would not read your private whatsapp conversations, right? That’s unsure and unclear.

For everyone who wants to know more on this topic: on February 19th,  Minister of the Interior Kajsa Ollongren will visit SIB-Groningen to give a lecture about “Security and Privacy in a Democratic Society”. This lecture is free and open to everyone.

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