• Awareness of algorithms among Dutch people increases, but trust falls
  • Half of Dutch people do not consider public authorities transparent and fair in their use of algorithms
  • In the third KPMG ‘Faith in algorithms’ barometer, calls for supervision have grown louder

Dutch public have little confidence in the use of algorithms by the authorities. Although citizens recognise the utility of their use in certain cases, they increasingly question the integrity and transparency of the way those algorithms are used and how their privacy is handled. KPMG's annual ‘Faith in algorithms’ barometer reveals that around 40% are opposed to the use of algorithms by public authorities, such as ministries, municipalities and administrative bodies. Half of Dutch people do not consider public authorities to be transparent and fair in their use of algorithms. This is a striking finding, because last year’s results suggested that Dutch people saw the benefits of algorithms as lying primarily in the public domain.

Nearly 80% of Dutch people now feel that the use of these kinds of automated processes by public authorities should always be regulated. The lack of transparency and lack of faith in the fair operation of algorithms have had a big impact on confidence in their use. “Moreover, algorithms used by public authorities virtually always affect citizens directly. That makes their impact greater”, says Frank van Praat of KPMG Trusted Analytics. Van Praat: “It is therefore essential that they work properly. However, no more than 18% of Dutch people have faith in the use of algorithms by public authorities and their administrative bodies. Only the big tech companies score lower when it comes to trust. A mere 14% believe that the use of algorithms by Google, Apple and Facebook is satisfactory. The police and healthcare institutions enjoy the highest levels of trust from Dutch citizens regarding the use of algorithms."

Benefits in public domains above all

KPMG's research reveals that half of Dutch people do not feel reassured about the use of algorithms by public authorities. And nearly 60% associate the use of algorithms by public authorities primarily with a lack of privacy. Van Praat: “The faith that Dutch people have in algorithms is primarily fed by transparent use. The study shows that 40% consider transparency to be essential for trust. And nearly 25% believe it is important for trust that algorithms are used to make society better – and not, as is currently often the case, to identify alleged abuses. As such, Dutch people doubt the utility of the use of algorithms in general. Around 30% believe that algorithms do not lead to better decision-making by definition. No more than 5% are convinced that algorithms improve decision-making by public authorities. Nevertheless, Dutch people do see benefits in their use by public authorities, especially in the public domain. Some 60% are in favour of the authorities using algorithms to track down criminals by means of facial recognition. Over 40% consider it acceptable for the government to use algorithms to identify benefit fraud. And half of Dutch people believe algorithms should be used for tracking and preventing non-school attendance."

Strong desire for increased regulation

The overwhelming majority of Dutch people believe algorithms need to be regulated to ensure fair and transparent operation. Van Praat: “80% believe the responsible use of algorithms needs to be regulated. In fact, over 40% feel that the regulation of their use by the government should be stricter than that of businesses. Recent incidents clearly seem to have had an impact on the perceptions of Dutch people regarding their use by the government. When it comes to regulation of responsible use of algorithms, they primarily envisage a role for regulators such as the Financial Markets Authority (AFM), the Data Protection Authority (AP) and the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). Nearly 40% believe that oversight should be put into their hands. Oversight by an independent third party is also seen as an option. In addition, a new Ministry of Digitisation could also play a role in the responsible use of algorithms by public authorities."

Contact

For more information: Jolanda Peek, 06-52327513 or peek.jolanda@kpmg.nl