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Report: The Netherlands used secret and racist algorithms to process entry visa applications


An investigative report revealed that Dutch authorities used racist algorithms to process visa applications. And the system depends on information such as nationality, gender and age.

A report completed last year commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and published in late April concluded that the internal culture of the institution was riddled with systemic racism, with employees recounting how they were described as monkeys, while others were constantly told to disavow terrorist attacks.

In response to these allegations, the State Department promised reform and said, “This is not what we want to be.”

During the previous period, a report by the Lighthouse Reports Center for Investigative Journalism revealed that the institution used an algorithm system to characterize risks on a large scale across the country, as the algorithm identifies the profiles of millions of people who are visa applicants, using variables such as nationality, gender and age.

The center indicated that the Dutch authorities have been using a racist algorithm to process visa applications since 2015.

The Lighthouse report stated that, without the public’s knowledge, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs was using a profiling system to estimate the extent of the risks that a short-term visa applicant might pose in the Netherlands and the Schengen space.

The report revealed that the algorithm is a specific series of strict instructions to solve a specific problem or perform a mathematical operation, which was applied to millions of visa seekers, depending on the aforementioned variables.

According to the report, the internal data protection official advised the ministry to immediately stop identifying the features of visa applicants, to discriminate them to some extent on the basis of nationality, and to deal with them in an unequal manner, claiming that this method of dealing still exists, and adopts nationality as one of the variables.

Commenting on the report, legislator and member of the Dutch House of Representatives Katy Perry claimed that it is very difficult for citizens of Morocco or Suriname to obtain a visa, and described the algorithm used as shocking, clearly and explicitly.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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