calendar tag arrow download print
Skip to content


17 November 2010
The promises of ICT, the hunger for information, and digital autonomy
Big data Health record
Databases – The promises of ICT, the hunger for information, and digital autonomy examines the possibilities and limitations of the use of databases by comparing six cases studies in the areas of e-health, youth care, public transport and customer profiles. The study focuses on the complex dynamics between the design of a database, the purposes it must serve, and the risks involved in the use of it.




The study demonstrates how risks are often overlooked. The security or reliability of – often personal – data is an issue. Incorrect data, mismatches or identity theft may lead to a virtual identity that does not fit reality. But citizens or consumers generally have a weak legal position to inspect and rectify errors.

Databases also warns against overambitious ICT plans. Simply collecting more data does not as a matter of course lead to greater efficiency or more convenience. The report stresses that before designing a system, there should be a very clear idea of the goal it should serve, and of the data necessary to achieve that goal. 

The study concludes that in order to reduce the risks involved in the use of databases, independent supervision of the design and use of databases is needed.


This is a slightly revised translation of:
Munnichs, G., M. Schuijff & M. Besters (red.): Databases – Over ICT-beloftes, informatiehonger en digitale autonomie. Den Haag, Rathenau Instituut, 2010.