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Privacy violations during the University Elections

Starting the 8th of June, all students at the University of Groningen are allowed to pick their student representatives for next year. For this, they have to use the WebElect-website to view the candidates and cast their vote. Several University Council parties are shocked by the amount of (privacy-violating) errors on the website.

When you have successfully opened the WebElect-website, you will see that your WebElect username and password are in the URL. If you share this URL, anyone can use it to cast a vote for you. Ivi Kussmaul, party leader for Democratische Academie Groningen (DAG) warns students not to share any links provided by the University or Webelect. “As long as these links contain personal data it is not safe to share them. Therefore we encourage students to share or”

David Jan Meijer, party leader for The Independent Student (DVS), is worried about these privacy violations. ‘These are basic mistakes, which are unacceptable to make. Especially when it comes to sensitive information such as an election.’ The Independent Student has tried to discuss the issues with WebElect in the past weeks, but as WebElect wasn’t able to repair the errors in time, they refused to respond to any of Meijer’s comments.

Kussmaul says that these issues shouldn’t be able to influence the elections, as long as students do not share their personal URLs. If this does happen, DAG fears electoral fraud.

DAG and DVS are both deeply dissatisfied with WebElect. Meijer: “If it’s up to The Independent Student, the University of Groningen takes its business elsewhere after the elections. The privacy of students should always come first.” The University of Groningen did not want to comment on this article.