Flemish far-right party uses personal data to identify supporters and opponents

For the past few months, Forza Ninove, the local chapter of Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, has been convincing residents of the town of Ninove to register to vote. Purely symbolic, but the personal data end up in a database to identify supporters and opponents, writes De Standaard on Monday.

Through a sponsored Facebook post, Forza Ninove asks people to register as a voter, but also asks for their address, mobile phone number, e-mail address and date of birth. In an interview with De Standaard, party leader Guy D'haeseleer says he will use thEdata to full effect. 

The addresses will be entered into a general database of all Ninove addresses. This way Forza Ninove gets a geographical overview of streets where there is more or less work to be done to convince new voters. On the day of their birthday, the registrants will also receive a message with congratulations.

According to D'haeseleer, by accepting the general terms and conditions of use, the European GDPR legislation is respected. But VUB privacy researcher Ronny Saelens questions this. It seems too vaguely formulated, he says in the newspaper.

Forza Ninove is the local chapter of the Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang. During the election in 2018, it became the largest party with 40% of the votes. However, it needed 42,5% for an absolute majority, and D'Haeseleer did not manage to become mayor. 

Due to regular controversies about racist remarks of its members, no other Flemish party wants to govern alongside Vlaams Belang. If D'haeseleer wants to come to power, an absolute majority seems to be his only option. With this registration programme, Forza Ninove wants to achieve that goal during the next elections in 2024.



Forza Ninove chairman Guy D'Haeseleer delivers a speech at the new year's reception of the party in 2019. - © BELGA PHOTO KEVIN WOUTERS

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