Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been exposed for deleting all text messages from his phone, on a daily basis, for years.
For several years now, Rutte has been using an old Nokia phone — yep, one of those brick-like dinosaurs that only store up to 20 messages at a time.
And how does he overcome the storage issue? Simple! By deleting any messages he himself considers unimportant, the NOS reports.
We all know what it’s like to have an old phone with limited storage — having to delete things all the time to make space for new apps, pictures and messages. But who would have thought that the Prime Minister seems to struggle with the same issues?
Freedom of information in question
The Dutch prime minister has come under stark scrutiny following this discovery.
The first thing that comes into question is Rutte’s time management skills (some have described his habit of deleting texts as being as time-consuming as a part-time job).
However, the exposure also brings up more serious concerns regarding the Freedom of Information Act (WOB) and transparency in politics.
Only unimportant texts deleted
Rutte has, in his defence, claimed that he only ever deleted unimportant messages — which is in accordance with the rules and regulations of the ministry.
He has firmly denied that he was deleting messages to cover up or withhold information, but the problem — as critics have pointed out — is that the public will just have to take the prime minister’s word for it.
There is no easy way of finding out which messages were removed from the surface of the earth and why.
The solution? Reach out to old friends
To comply with a WOB request, Rutte (or perhaps an unfortunate assistant) now has to find his old texts by looking into his former texting partners, who hopefully have phones fancy enough to store more than 20 texts at once.
Petra de Koning (author of the book Mark Rutte) tells RTL Nieuws that texting is the prime minister’s “trademark.” As a result, it should not be too difficult to get a hold of a decent amount of old text messages.
The problem, as pointed out by several critics, is rather the lack of knowledge and overview of Rutte’s texting activities — and a lack of a logical explanation for why such a busy man would choose to use a phone that should have been thrown in the recycling bin long ago.
It’s still not certain whether the prime minister’s peculiar hipster-like behaviour of sticking to old fashioned technology can be marked as a breach of communication and transparency laws — or just a quirk.
As a result of the controversy, or perhaps out of necessity, Rutte has now been able to scrape together the funds for a new phone (which thankfully does not require daily wipes to function.)
We’re all nostalgic towards that old-school Nokia era, but is Rutte maybe taking it a bit too far? Let us know in the comments below!