Dutch government launches Algorithms Register

Dutch government launches Algorithms Register

Published on: 23/12/2022
Algoritmes logo
Source: https://algoritmes.overheid.nl/ (cropped)

The Dutch government has launched a website to provide information about the algorithms it uses: https://algoritmes.overheid.nl/. (There's a "Switch to English" option in the top-right corner.)

The site only launched recently and the work of gathering the data is just beginning. Contribution to the register is currently voluntary but the FAQ notes that "In the future, it will become a legal requirement to make algorithms publicly available" except for "justified exceptions". According to the Work Agenda for Values-driven Digitalisation (in Dutch, pages 37+38), by the end of 2025: "All algorithms that are relevant for citizens will be required to be incorporated into a algorithm register which is transparent".

The site contains information about how objections can be made about each algorithm. It is also possible to give feedback on the information which is on the algorithms register.

This project is one of the projects planned in the Work Agenda for Values-driven Digitalisation (in Dutch, pages 37+38). This document notes, when discussing the social task, "Algorithms that the government uses are not always transparent, leading to citizens sometimes experiencing the digital world as a 'black box'. Think for example about the example of an algorithm that decides whether the occupation of an address is to be investigated. What comes out of an algorithm must be explainable."

Six other actions are proposed in that document (p38) to regulate algorithms:

  • Make it transparent which algorithms and rules are being used by the government
  • Establish generally applicable conditions for the purchase of algorithms by the government
  • Develop an implementation framework for the use of algorithms by the government
  • When applying the upcoming EU AI Act, the banning of some specific algorithms and requiring "high-risk" algorithms to obtain CE certification
  • Creation of the role for algorithm oversight
  • Establish guidelines for the use of algorithms in certain sectors such as healthcare and government, to be proposed at EU level

The Algorithm Register was announced by Secretary of State for Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen on 21 December on Mastadon: "Today we are publishing the Algorithm Register of the Dutch government: http://Algoritmes.overheid.nl With this we are making it transparent which algorithms are used and how they work. We are strengthening the position of the citizen with regard to the government. Control of digital life for each person."

The code for the algorithms register is itself free / open source and can be found at github.com/MinBZK/Algoritmeregister.