February 24, 2014

Our robotic overlords have lost their fining privileges, Leeuwarden court declares

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 12:46 am

The Dutch state can no longer fine motorists automatically for lacking insurance, Volkskrant reported on Saturday.

An enterprising judge in Leeuwarden wanted to know the name of prolific civil servant number 404040 who had booked 280,000 motorists in 2013. It turned out that number 404040 was a computer which in the eyes of the court was problematic. There is this pesky thing, you know, called the law, that says only humans can hand out fines.

RDW, the independent governmental service that collects the fines, is already studying how to avoid paying back the nice chunk of cash that it has stolen from the public. Last year alone the service collected 109 million euro illegally. In the future RDW will simply perjure themselves and put the ID of the civil servant who happens to be in the same building as computer number 404040 is on the fines.

Last year the public prosecutor tried to imprison a woman for not insuring her non-existent car.

Last week RTL Nieuws revealed that the government hardly ever prosecutes crimes committed by civil servants even though civil servants are required by law—there’s that pesky law again–to report crimes. It took RTL Nieuws a couple of years to collect the figures—they needed to use freedom of information requests to get at the information. (As you may know, the Dutch government is perfectly happy to be transparent about the times they do not break the law.) In total only 36 of 411 possible crimes were prosecuted.

Last December Transparency International declared the Netherlands one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world.

See also: Speed cameras wrongly fine motorists for years

(Photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)

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February 28, 2011

Copyright vigilantes Brein seize servers illegally

Filed under: Online,Technology by Branko Collin @ 8:46 am

Dutch MPAA representatives Brein have broken the law by removing computer equipment worth hundreds of thousands of euro without a court order, law professor Ton Jongbloed told Tweakers.net last Tuesday. Brein seized 8 servers from hosting provider Al Transa last January.

The Brein foundation claims that the servers contained the warez site SWAN, although its not clear how it reasons that this makes it OK to break the law. Owner Craig Salmond says he will report the foundation to the police for theft, unless Brein gives back his hardware and offers a formal apology. His lawyer added that computervredebreuk, illegal hacking of a computer would also be a possible charge. Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet sees a charge of fraud as more likely to lead to a conviction, whereas the lawyers of IT en Recht are putting their money on a charge of vigilantism.

According to Webwereld, Brein gained the ability to log in to Salmond’s servers before they took the computers. Engelfriet thinks a charge of theft is unlikely to stick, as the maintainer of the 8 computers, another provider called Worldstream, voluntarily handed the machines over to Brein.

On a totally unrelated note, in December 2010 a judge decided to keep a 16-year-old script kiddie another two weeks in jail (by now he has been released) after he allegedly had hacked websites of MasterCard and Visa in retaliation for their treatment of Wikileaks front man Julian Assange. Call it a hunch, but I have severe doubts that we will ever hear of Brein manager Tim Kuik receiving a similar treatment at the hands of his good buddies at the Justice department. I doubt he will even ever spend a second in jail, at least not for copyright related matters. He just doesn’t fit the profile, never mind that the wealthy Brein foundation is in a much better position to make the prosecutor look silly than a gormless teenage high school student is.

(Photo by Malene Thyssen, some rights reserved)

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September 12, 2010

Lawyers may not kiss their friends if these friends are also clients

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 10:57 am

A remarkable verdict from a disciplinary court: a lawyer was found to have acted without the dignity proper to his profession when he kissed a friend on the cheek in greeting while representing her.

De Pers reports that the unnamed lawyer greeted the friend at a police station in 2008, where an assistant prosecutor took offence and filed charges for ‘unseemly behaviour’. Two weeks ago the Amsterdamse Raad van Discipline (Amsterdam Disciplinary Court) agreed with the assistant prosecutor.

Apart from the fact that there are gradations of familiarity, and that kissing somebody on the cheek at the police station is perhaps not the same thing as walking around a court room in bathroom slippers, there is also a whiff of sexism attached to this verdict. That is to say, I cannot remember hearing of a similar verdict regarding shaking hands, which is how most men greet each other in this country.

The lawyer has received a warning.

(Link: Martin Wisse, second day in a row! Photo by Steve Punter, some rights reserved.)

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