The League for Human Rights has nominated nine institutions for its Big Brother award – which highlights breaches of privacy. The list includes security cameras in Knokke, the law on retaining communications information, the Passenger Name Records kept by airlines, the Brussels public transport Mobib season ticket, the Antwerp city marriage of convenience investigation squad, credit records maintained by financial institutions and the General Owners and Co-Owners’ Syndicate of property owners. A campaign to raise privacy awareness was launched last week in Ghent. The award will be announced in November.
Belgium has dropped from 22nd to 25th place in competitiveness, according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook, issued by the Swiss management institute IMD. The annual survey looks at 327 criteria regarding economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.
Brussels city mayor Freddy Thielemans has made it clear there will be no mustard plants planted in a field in Neder-Over- Heembeek used by travellers to park their caravans in the summer. The plan, proposed by a Brussels alderman, involved using the plants – which can grow to 1.5m in height – to deter caravan dwellers. But protests came from integration groups and scout troupes, who use the field for recreation. Last week Thielemans told a city council meeting there would be no plantation, but protestors pointed out that the field has already been ploughed, making it impossible for either travellers or scouts to use it this year.
Nine Flemish municipalities will begin a pilot project on 1 July to test a new “smart” driving licence to be issued to all new drivers. The new licence, which is similar to the ID card and is fitted with a chip, is intended to make police controls easier. The project will begin in Liedekerke, Kortrijk, Zottegem, Genk, Denderleeuw, Puurs, Ypres, Beringen and Aarschot, and will be extended in 2011 to finally cover the whole country in 2012. The new licence costs €20.
Children in Flemish schools are more likely to make fun of each other over physical appearance than for any other reason, according to research carried out by the British Council. Physical differences were rated the main reason by 49% of pupils, compared to 51% in Italy and higher than every other European country surveyed. Wearing the wrong clothes was highest for 47% in Flanders, but only 8% of pupils considered bullying a problem at school, the lowest national rate and well below the European average of 20%. ➟➟ www.britishcouncil.org/indie
Expats living in Brussels are invited to take part in a confidential survey for the Brussels Information, Documentation and Research centre (Brio) of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), to help determine views on daily life, language practice, leisure activities and contact with neighbours in the capital. ➟➟ www.briobrussel.be