University of Twente Student Theses


Vrijheid van meningsuiting van ambtenaren beperkt #socialmedia: literatuuronderzoek naar mogelijkheden om het gebruik van social media door ambtenaren te reguleren via integriteitsbeleid.

Nieuwenhuis, K.H.M. (2013) Vrijheid van meningsuiting van ambtenaren beperkt #socialmedia: literatuuronderzoek naar mogelijkheden om het gebruik van social media door ambtenaren te reguleren via integriteitsbeleid.

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Abstract:Social media allow people to share their opinions, thoughts and feelings with a great number of others relatively easy and without editorial supervision. The Dutch government and its civil servants currently use these new media to engage and communicate with the citizens they serve, however civil servants also use aforementioned social media for private purposes. One of the potential dangers of social media use by civil servants is inappropriate use of these media – such as Inappropriate use may have significant consequences for the image and legitimacy of the governmental organization that employs the civil servant. This is because civil servants may also be considered government representatives by the general public. There have been several incidents in the past where inappropriate use of social media by civil servants has lead to controversy. The ‘tweets’ of district police chief Dijksman are a notable example. The objective of this study is to investigate how a governmental organization like the Brandweer Twente (fire brigade of Twente) can effectively regulate civil servant use of social media. An important facet of this study is the consideration of the integrity policy pursued by the Brandweer Twente. In order to formulate a policy advice with regards to social media use, relevant legislation, jurisprudence and legal literature are studied. For the purpose of clarity, the study will try to answer the following research question: To what extent can a governmental organization, as an employer, regulate the use of social media by civil servants? How does the constitutional right to free speech limit such regulation and what role does the behavourial integrity policy play in this case? The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by article 7 of the Dutch constitution and paragraph 3 of this article explicitly mentions this right also applies to expressions on social media. Freedom of expression is recognized as a fundamental right for all citizens, but that does not mean that unlimited exercise is always possible. In certain cases, freedom of expression must be limited, despite the fact that the right to freedom of expression is intended to protect citizens against potential oppression by government. The right to freedom of expression by civil servants can only be limited, in a formal sense, by the Dutch Ambtenarenwet (civil servants law). The limitations to this fundamental human right for civil servants are justified to ensure the duly functioning of the governmental organization. Article 125a of the Dutch Ambtenarenwet describes a code of conduct that orders civil servant to refrain from revealing personal thoughts and feelings that could compromise his or her public service responsibility and the duly operation of governmental service. So a civil servant has the right to freedom of expression as long as he or she conforms to article 125a. The code of conduct in article 125a of the Dutch Ambtenarenwet can be read as a specific guideline on how civil servants ought to conduct themselves, including on the area of social media use. In addition to article 125a, the Dutch Ambtenarenwet also states that both governmental organizations, as employers, and civil servants are obliged to behave as good employers and good civil servants respectively. Article 125a of the Dutch Ambtenarenwet can be considered the fundament (cornerstone?) on which the entire framework of obligations of governmental employees and employers is build. Behavioural Titel Summary integrity is one of these obligations. Proper employment from a behavourial integrity standpoint means that an employer is supposed to eliminate knowable risks that might compromise employee’s behavourial integrity. But the employer should also draft up a behavourial integrity policy for unforseen events. The Dutch Ambtenarenwet provides a concept for the implementation of a behavioural integrity policy but the specifics of these policies tend to be unique to each type of governmental organization. In addition to the components of a behavourial integrity policy which are mandatory by law, a governmental organization may also use other instruments to promote behavourial integrity. Instruments such as directives, rules and regulations. A directive is a good opportunity to impose rules with regards to employee use of social media. Brandweer Twente is advised to promote awareness of the importance of behavioural integrity during the use of social media by actively engaging its staff in a continuous dialogue. In conjunction with the dialogue, Brandweer Twente should draft and distribute a social media directive that would come to serve as the basic guideline to which employees can always defer.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Brandweer Twente
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
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