The government seeks to provide easily accessible services. It should therefore no longer matter which government organisation a citizen or company applies to for a licence or for starting up a company. In order to realise this, digitalisation is essential. The legislature has been endeavouring to have all communications from the government to citizens and companies take place digitally from 2017 onwards. Digital where possible, personal where necessary.
Forming the starting point of this transformation process are a number of laws that set out requirements about how public authorities design their digital services, such as the Electronic Administrative Communication (Modernisation) Act, the Services Act and the heralded Digital Government Act. Due to the arrival of the Quality and Innovation Programme (KEI), public authorities have been obliged since the start of 2017 to conduct legal proceedings digitally.
In addition to the statutory requirements of the government with regard to digitalisation, public authorities are obliged to exercise more transparency and openness. Examples include the Open Government Act (Woo), which will probably replace the Government Information Public Access Act, and the Reuse of Public Sector Information Act.
Privacy law imposes limits on these processes of digitalisation and openness. The legal framework for public authorities is therefore changing significantly as a result, among other things, of the new General Data Protection Regulation.
In addition, there are also technological developments that have an impact on the provision of information by public authorities, such as big data, blockchains and cloud computing.
Our view is that these legal and technological developments demand an integrated approach. If the government must adopt a decision for example, this entails various important questions:
- Which part of this decision is personal information?
- May this decision be saved in the cloud or processed using an SaaS application?
- Which part of this decision must be digitally published under the Open Government Act?
- Is there any company-confidential information in this decision? Or in the application?
- Must confidential information be kept out of the judicial proceedings by invoking Article 8:29 of the General Administrative Law Act?
- Is the decision in a format that can be sent to the courts under KEI, the Quality and Innovation Programme?
- May the decision be reused in connection with use in big data?
Efficiency and consistency
With a view to efficiency and consistency, it is important to ask these questions promptly and to look at them in relation to one another. This requires public authorities to enter, generate, gather and share information in the correct manner from the very start of the work processes. This will enable you to administer in an efficient and modern manner within the statutory parameters and to limit liability risks.
Think in terms of legal possibilities
The new technological developments require a keen understanding of the law and a partner who approaches the developments from the perspective of legal possibilities rather than legal limitations. Pels Rijcken is that partner. We have a clear understanding about which legal issues are involved in working in the cloud and working with big data and blockchains.
As a 'full service' firm, Pels Rijcken has an expert team that has experience with these kinds of issues. We put the law into practice. Would you like to know more or test whether you are digital-proof? Feel free to contact us.