Regain your privacy through bureaucracy

Going over the list of services that the municipality of Amsterdam offers this week, I couldn’t help but notice this:

the option to change your date of birth (without a foreign certificate)

Services the city of Amsterdam offers among which the option to change your date of birth

This is a very interesting option. I am not aware of the reasons one could assert to change their date of birth, but the fact that the option is listed, says something. In any case, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a reason that fulfills official requirements.

Why would you want to do this?

I am reasonably sure that most statistical inference methods on databases are pinned fairly rigidly on the fact that somebody’s date of birth never changes. The various parts of your name can be mismatched, but if you do not have an id for somebody (like a social security number), the date of birth is your best bet to reduce the number of possible matches.

If you manage to change your date of birth if only by a day and re-register with that everywhere, you will have shed your privacy tail and can start anew. That by itself, struck me as a hopeful thought. Now just to have somebody try it out.

Post scriptum: I talked about this with Rejo and he suggested I FOIA the number of times this occurs and the reasons why it happens. I put that on my list, for some time in the future.

One thought on “Regain your privacy through bureaucracy”

  1. I don’t think this is very exciting. There’s a group of people who didn’t know (or maybe didn’t want to say) their date of birth upon arriving in the Netherlands. Think about people who have lost contact with their parents or other people who can tell them on which date they were born. I’ve heard they usually pick January 1st if they know their year. It seems logical to me to pick i.e. June or July 1st if you know that you were born in summer.

    Now i’ve given this some thought: there must also be loads of people who come from places with a different calender system.

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