Two weeks ago Emerce reported that the major Dutch banks had streamlined their terms and conditions with regards to theft resulting from phishing.
The new terms and conditions, which will come into effect on 1 January 2014, set out five conditions phishing victims must meet to be able to claim damages from their bank. Customers must:
- Never give their passwords to anyone.
- Never let others use their bank card.
- Adequately protect the equipment they use for electronic banking (i.e. install virus scanners and so on).
- Regularly check their bank statements.
- Report incidents right away.
Financial news site Z24 believes that these new rules are bad news for bank customers—they will have to pay for the damages of phishing attacks themselves in a greater number of cases. The site quotes Jurgen Braspenning of Tilburg University who accuses some consumers of being lazy and careless. “It would seem that extremely unfair or dubious cases may still count on the kindness of banks in the future.”
A spokesperson for the Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken (Dutch association of banks) tries to downplay the effects of the new rules: “it is not our intention to make customers more often responsible for the costs and we don’t expect them to be.” According to Z24 the burden of proof is always with the bank.
See also: Dutch banks won’t employ anti-skimming hook.
Tags: banks, identity theft, money, passwords, phishing, Tilburg University
Saying sorry profusely and ‘distancing oneself from the incident’ is purely being done not to get sued. And suing does not happen that often, but this time the guy from Arnhem who was refused an internship for being black went straight to the police and filed a complaint.
An electronics company in Arnhem refused a candidate based on his skin colour and sadly, the internal e-mail in which this was done was sent to the candidate by mistake.
“I had a look, it’s nothing. First of all he’s dark-coloured (nigger). And he has little experience with computers etc. on his resume.”
The nigger part is in the e-mail as such, and ‘it’s nothing’ means ‘it won’t work out’. The employee that sent the mail by mistake never would have apologised had they not been caught. So basically, they really are racist and the candidate has a point.
A run of racist and discriminatory remarks have plagued the Netherlands as of late, and co-blogger Branko has been writing them up on another blog, calling it ‘The coming out of the racists’.
And after the racist remarks towards a Chinese student that hit television recently, here’s a column by a Canadian of Chinese descent married to a Dutchman of Chinese decent and their takes on it.
(www.deondernemer.nl, Image: Wiering Software’s video game Zwarte Piet)
Tags: Arnhem, Chinese, race, racism
According to the third edition of the EF English Proficiency Index the Dutch are the third best in the world in speaking English as a second language.
Language educators EF tested the skills of over five million English speakers in 60 countries. The number one and two spots were taken by the Swedes and the Norwegians.
The South Americans and Asians are catching up the fastest. In Europe the English of the French actually got worse. Their proficiency was rated ‘low’. The countries that improved their English skills the most since the previous edition of the index were Turkey, Kazakhstan and Hungary.
The illustration is a silly visual pun. The Dutch call this type of train a dubbeldekker.
Tags: language skills, languages, statistics
Ten former prostitutes are claiming 1.2 million euro from seven procurers before a court in The Hague.
The claim is part of a criminal case in which seven Hungarian men are accused of sex trafficking, AD reports. Twenty Hungarian women say the men forced them to hand over the money they made in prostitution. The damage claims run from 700 euro to 460,000 euro.
The sex trafficking case is the result of a police raid in April 2011 in the Doubletstraat in The Hague. The police cordoned off the street and talked to 157 prostitutes.
A court decision is expected in December.
(Photo of the Doubletstraat from Google Street View)
Tags: jobs, pimps, profits, prostitutes, prostitution
Two angry blog posts in as many months show the state of freedom of information in the Netherlands. Long story short, the government wants everybody to be transparent except themselves.
In the past year political blog Sargasso directed 30 or so freedom of information requests at all levels of government. Their report of how they fared (the first court victories are expected next year) reads like a how-to for civil servants—how to sabotage freedom of information requests:
- Be late in everything you do.
- Split requests into multiple parts and reject them all separately.
- Send ten-page-long rejection letters full of legalese.
- Let the complaints committee reject the inevitable complaints.
- Once forced by a court of law, redact the information you return to the point of illegibility.
- Wash, rinse, repeat.
Dealing with all of these things takes time and money, of which the state possesses infinitely more than the average citizen or reporter.
Sargasso also noted that they had no troubles at all with FOI requests for non-sensitive subjects (e.g. how many restaurant permits does a city have). Only once they started digging into things like the presumably fraudulent past of the former mayor of Helmond, Fons Jacobs, did they run into a wall.
In August the Retecool blog made minced meat out of the argument that the fines governments have to pay for refusing to perform their legal duties were too high and the result of systemic fraud. Both the Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten (Association of Dutch municipalities) and Minister of the Interior Ronald Plasterk had argued as much.
Retecool (a not always SFW blog) pointed out that many municipalities only had to pay one or just a few fines in 2012 which hardly points to systemic abuse. The few cases where abuse seemed real ended up before the courts who had no troubles finding for the municipalities when the facts warranted it. The city of Eindhoven (200,000 inhabitants) paid the highest amount of fines of any place in the Netherlands. The 119,060 euro in fines they paid last year were for all requests they failed to process in time, not just FOI requests. Retecool contrasts this to the severance packages the city handed to its former employees, which was 150,000 euro in just the first 9 months of 2012. The blog contrasts Eindhoven’s fines with the cost of The Hague’s new year’s party, 125,000 euro in 2013. Sounds to me like the fines may not be high enough.
See also: No fees for freedom of information requests says Dutch Supreme Court
(Photo of the closed city of Severomorsk in Russia by Sergej Shinkarjuk, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eindhoven, Fons Jacobs, freedom of information, Helmond, politics, Retecool, Ronald Plasterk, Sargasso, The Hague, Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG
Magazine publishing giants Sanoma is laying off 500 Dutch employees and shunting 2,000 freelancers, as well as considering axing or merging some of their less popular publications, some of which used to be big names in the Dutch weekly scene such as Panorama, Nieuwe Revu, Playboy and Marie Claire.
I thought it would be interesting to see what is happening to the leesmaps, magazine portfolios where for the subscription rate of about a single weekly magazine you get a whole bunch of them. The catch being you only get to keep the magazines for a week, then they move on to the next customer who pays a slightly lesser rate, and so on, until the commercial potential of the folder of magazines is exhausted. Hairdressers and doctors love leesmaps for their waiting rooms.
Does such a concept even exist outside the Netherlands? In a 2011 interview with Volkskrant, Audax founder Jacques de Leeuw claimed he invented the concept as a 17-year-old when delivering magazines that his father imported, placing the introduction of leesmaps in 1950. An unlikely story considering that the Lité Leesmap was already advertising in the 1940s in De Leeuw’s home town of Tilburg.
Leesmaps have been in decline for years. At the height of their popularity there were a million leesmap subscribers in the Netherlands, but in 2007 that number dwindled to 300,000. Still it doesn’t seem the Sanoma cutbacks will mean much of a loss to the leesmaps. To the latter, the magazines that get the axe already formed the dead wood. The question is how symbiotic the relation between the unpopular magazines and the leesmaps was. Weeklies like Panorama and Nieuwe Revu may even have been able to extend their death rattle a little longer because they were still ‘popular’ in the leesmaps.
Tags: commerce, leesmap, leesmaps, magazines, Marie Claire, Nieuwe Revu, Panorama, Playboy, publishing, weeklies
Sharing unstamped train tickets started with a Facebook page for Utrecht Central Station, the country’s biggest train station, with 9,400 likes and counting, and is spreading like wildfire to the rest of the country. Although many people now use a public transport chip card for train travel, paper tickets are still available until next year, and this trick works with paper tickets. It all started with a girl who took a picture of her train ticket and put it on Facebook to share it. Then three guys picked up the idea and started Facebook pages to do the same, with rumours of developing an app.
I plan to go from Amsterdam to Utrecht and back the same day. I buy a paper train ticket, get in the train, travel, and go back to Amsterdam in time for dinner. The train staff didn’t stamp my train ticket, so it can be used again for the same trip. The goal of the Facebook page is to share these tickets by leaving them somewhere at a train station, making someone’s else day, with a small treasure hunt as a bonus.
Technically a train ticket cannot be used twice and it is illegal to do so, but if nobody checks, nothing can be proven, and it’s been like that for ages. So why is it trendy now? Social media makes it easier to share these tickets and the prices keep going up, but not the service, so people are getting creative. As well, finding out that Dutch railways (NS) has been evading taxes to the tune of 250 million euro by buying trains through Ireland will make you stop your moral questioning since the NS is not burdened by any such feelings.
Then again, these Facebook pages are encouraging people to commit fraud, which won’t get the NS to check train tickets more often as they simply do not have the staff for it. The sharing is also not very convenient for one way tickets.
Either way, the message is clear: train tickets are too expensive and people are not happy with the NS.
(Links: www.duic.nl, www.telegraaf.nl, Photo of train by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)
Tags: Dutch railways, Facebook, NS, trains
Originally valued at 150,000 euro, an African postage stamp from Kenya-Uganda has fetched 208,000 euro at an auction house in Weesp, North Holland this week. The stamp was sold for 170,00, but with a 20% commission on top, the total comes to the record amount of 208,000 euro, the most ever paid for a stamp at a Dutch auction.
The stamp features the portrait of British King George V who ruled over East Africa, and was bought by a German collector. The stamp was never hinged, with only four other known copies of such a high quality left in the world.
(Links: nos.nl, ed.nl, Photo by Wikimedia user Jonathunder, some rights reserved)
Tags: Africa, auction, postage stamps
An advertising campaign featuring comedian Steven Brunswijk from Tilburg, Noord Brabant aimed at young people working in the hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants and cafes, aka ‘horeca’) has raised red flags with anti-discrimination groups as being offensive.
Brunswijk has been known for a few years as the ‘Braboneger’ (‘Brabant negro’ or ‘Brabant n*****’), which is his shtick. It is his stage name and his Twitter handle. What started off as a joke with Brunswijk and his friends making funny videos from a Black guy’s perspective on Noord Brabant (accent, culture, etc.) turned into a character that is on its way to becoming famous.
If anyone thinks that the ad agency came up with the character, then yes, that would be cause for alarm, even though the campaign is about young people getting proper working conditions and nothing to do with discrimination. The problem here is that people are now offended by Brunswijk’s own use of the N-word and therefore the ad campaign is considered to be offensive.
Brunswijk does use the abbreviation ‘BN’, which is also the Dutch abbreviation for celebrity (‘Bekende Nederlander’), again a nice coincidence. Maybe they could have used that instead, but others would see that as censorship.
Noord Brabant television station Omproep Brabant seems nothing but pleased that their guy is head of this campaign.
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, www.braboneger.com, YouTube screenshot)
Tags: comedy, Noord-Brabant, Tilburg
Here we go again: another reality show on yet another ‘deserted’ island with yet another bunch of seemingly unattached not too bad looking young people, but this time they are naked. ‘Adam looking for Eve’ (‘Adam zkt. Eva’ in Dutch) is going to hit televisions in 2014 and is considered going ‘back to basics’, that is, instead of hiding behind social media for dating purposes, this show gets it all out in the open very literally.
First of all, I don’t like the title: why can’t Eve look for Adam as well? Does it really have to imply that men chase like cavemen and women are just dumb prey? The naked part is easy shock value and upping the game no matter what the makers say. They’ll put dumb people on the show for sure because that sells very well, naked or not.
(Link: www.wel.nl, Illustration by Michelangelo)
Tags: Dating, reality TV, television