Summary proceedings against massive privacy violation by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera surveillance
Challenging large-scale privacy violations in court has long been Privacy First’s established practice. In recent years, Privacy First has successfully done so against the central storage in the Netherlands of everyone’s fingerprints under the Dutch Passport Act, against the storage of everyone’s communications data under the Dutch Telecommunications Data Retention Act and – in coalition with other parties – against large-scale risk profiling of innocent citizens through the Dutch System Risk Indication (SyRI).
A current and urgent issue that equally merits going to court over, concerns the Dutch legislation on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) which applies since 2019 under Art. 126jj of the Dutch Code of Penal Procedure. Under this piece of law, the number plate codes of millions of cars in the Netherlands (i.e. everyone’s travel movements) are stored continuously for four weeks in a central police database for criminal investigation purposes, regardless of whether one is suspected of anything. This is totally unnecessary, completely disproportionate and also ineffective, as was revealed in evaluation reports published today by the Dutch Research and Documentation Center (‘WODC’, part of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security). Supervision is lacking and the system can easily be abused, newspaper NRC Handelsblad recently confirmed in its reporting.
Privacy First has therefore prepared a lawsuit to have the ANPR legislation repealed on account of violation of European privacy law. Summary proceedings against the Dutch government will take place at the district court of The Hague on 10 November 2021. Through Pro Bono Connect, Privacy First has engaged CMS as the law firm that will take care of the litigation in this case. Our summons in summary proceedings can be found HERE (pdf in Dutch). If necessary, these preliminary proceedings will be followed by broader proceedings on the merits. After all, there is no doubt that the current ANPR law constitutes a massive privacy violation and simply does not belong in a free democratic society. Considering the relevant European case law, Privacy First deems the likelihood of successful legal action very high.
Case details: Privacy First vs. the State (Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security), Wednesday 10 November 2021 11.00 am, The Hague district court. You are welcome to attend the court hearing. A route description in Dutch can be found here.
Update November 8, 2021: due to Corona restrictions, it appears that the court is only willing to allow two (already registered) visitors at the court hearing. However, due to high public interest, there will be a livestream: https://www.rechtspraak.nl/Organisatie-en-contact/Organisatie/Rechtbanken/Rechtbank-Den-Haag/Nieuws/Paginas/Livestream-rechtszaak-stichting-Privacy-First-tegen-de-Staat.aspx.
Update November 10, 2021: the court hearing took place today; click HERE for our lawyer's pleading (pdf in Dutch). The court's ruling is scheduled for December 1st.
Update December 1, 2021: today the district court of The Hague rendered its judgment. In the judgment, the court first of all established that Privacy First is admissible in this case as a non-profit interest group for the protection of the privacy of all citizens in the Netherlands. This again establishes that Privacy First can conduct these and subsequent legal proceedings in the public interest. Subsequently, however, the court ruled that in these preliminary relief proceedings there was no sufficiently urgent interest. Privacy First finds this judgment incomprehensible, since in the case of a daily massive privacy violation by definition there is an urgent interest to have that violation legally reviewed and to have it stopped. Privacy First will now commence proceedings on the merits against the ANPR legislation and is also considering lodging an urgent appeal against the current judgment with the Court of Appeal of The Hague. In view of relevant European case law, Privacy First still considers the chances of successful legal action exceptionally high.
The ANPR legislation at issue in Privacy First's lawsuit relates to the mass collection and storage of everyone's "historical" ANPR data, also known as "no hits". This should be distinguished from the many years of police practice where license plates of suspects (so-called "hits") can be used for criminal investigations. Dutch media are regularly confused about this as a result of misleading government information, for example on the websites of the Dutch National Police and the Public Prosecution Service. Privacy First regrets such deception and hopes that the media will not be misled by this.
Would you like to support these legal proceedings? Then please consider becoming a donor! Privacy First consists largely of volunteers and is entirely dependent on sponsorship and donations to pursue litigation.
The world is hit exceptionally hard by the coronavirus. This pandemic is not only a health hazard, but can also lead to a human rights crisis, endangering privacy among other rights.
The right to privacy includes the protection of everyone’s private life, personal data, confidential communication, home inviolability and physical integrity. Privacy First was founded to protect and promote these rights. Not only in times of peace and prosperity, but also in times of crisis.
Now more than ever, it is vital to stand up for our social freedom and privacy. Fear should not play a role in this. However, various countries have introduced draconian laws, measures and infrastructures. Much is at stake here, namely preserving everyone’s freedom, autonomy and human dignity.
Privacy First monitors these developments and reacts proactively as soon as governments are about to take measures that are not strictly necessary and proportionate. In this respect, Privacy First holds that the following measures are in essence illegitimate:
- Mass surveillance
- Forced inspections in the home
- Abolition of anonymous or cash payments
- Secret use of camera surveillance and biometrics
- Every form of infringement on medical confidentiality.
Privacy First will see to it that justified measures will only apply temporarily and will be lifted as soon as the Corona crisis is over. It should be ensured that no new, structural and permanent emergency legislation is introduced. While the measures are in place, effective legal means should remain available and privacy supervisory bodies should remain critical.
Moreover, in order to control the coronavirus effectively, we should rely on the individual responsibility of citizens. Much is possible on the basis of voluntariness and individual, fully informed, specific and prior consent.
As always, Privacy First is prepared to assist in the development of privacy-friendly policies and any solutions based on privacy by design, preferably in collaboration with relevant organizations and experts. Especially in these times, the Netherlands (and the European Union) can become an international point of reference when it comes to fighting a pandemic while preserving democratic values and the right to privacy. This is the only way that the Corona crisis will not be able to weaken our world lastingly, and instead, we will emerge stronger together.
Writing a New Year’s Column about the state of affairs concerning the protection of everyone’s privacy weighs me down this year. With the exception of a few bright spots, privacy in the Netherlands and the rest of the world has greatly deteriorated. For a while it seemed that the revelations of Edward Snowden in 2013 about secret services tracking everyone’s online behavior would be a rude wake-up call for the world. It was thought that an increasing number of data breaches and a rising number of governments and companies getting hacked, would make people realize that large amounts of data stored centrally is not the solution. The Arab Spring in 2015 would bring about major change through the unprecedented use of (social) media.
The European Union successfully voted against the exchange of data relating to travel movements, paved the way for the current General Data Protection Regulation and seemed to become the shining alternative example under the guidance of Germany, a country known for its vigilance when it comes to privacy. Unfortunately, things turned out differently. Under the Obama administration, Snowden was shunned as a traitor and other whistleblowers were clamped down on harder than ever before. Julian Assange was forced into exile while murdering people with the use of drones and without any form of trial was implemented on a large scale. Extrajudicial killings with collateral damage... While the discussion was about waterboarding... Discussions on such ‘secondary topics’ have by now become commonplace in politics, and so has the framing and blaming of opponents in the polarized public debate (the focus is usually on the person rather than on the argument itself).
Looking back on 2018, Privacy First identifies a great number of areas where the breakdown of privacy is evident:
Government & privacy
In March, an advisory referendum in the Netherlands was held on the introduction of the so-called Tapping law. Immediately after that, the referendum was abrogated. This happened in a time of unprecedented technological possibilities to organize referendums in various ways in a shared democracy. That’s outrageous. The outcome of the referendum was not taken into account and the Tapping law was introduced just like that. Moreover, it turned out that all along, the Dutch Minister of the Interior had withheld an important report on the functioning of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service.
Apparently this was nothing to worry about and occurred without any consequences. The recent report by the Dutch State Commission on the (re)introduction of referendums will likely end up in a drawer, not to be looked at again.
Fear of losing one’s role and the political mood of the day are all too important in a culture in which ‘professional politicians’ are afraid to make mistakes, but which is full of incidents nonetheless. One’s job or profession comes first, representing citizens comes second. Invariably, incidents are put under a magnifying glass in order to push through binding legislation with a broad scope. Without the review of compliance with guiding principles such as necessity, purpose limitation, subsidiarity and proportionality. There is an ever wider gap between government and citizens, who are not trusted but are expected to be fully transparent towards that self-same government. A government that time and again appears to be concealing matters from citizens. A government that is required by law to protect and promote privacy, but is itself still the most prominent privacy-violator.
The medical establishment & privacy
In this area things got really out of hand in 2018. Through various coordinated media offensives, the EU and the member states are trying to make us believe in the advantages of relinquishing our right to physical integrity and our humanity. Sharing biometric data with the United States continues unabatedly. We saw the police calling for compulsory DNA databases, compulsory vaccination programs, the use of smart medicines with microchips and the phasing out of alternative therapies. Furthermore, health insurance companies cautiously started to cover genetic testing and increasingly doing away with medical confidentiality, the Organ Donation Act was introduced and microchips implanted in humans (the cyborg as the highest ideal in Silicon Valley propaganda) became ever more popular.
How long before microchips become compulsory for all citizens? All (domestic) animals in the EU have already preceded us. And then there’s the Electronic Health Record, which was first rejected in the Dutch Senate but has reappeared on the minister’s agenda via a detour. Driven by commercial interests, it is being rammed down the throats of general practitioners while alternatives such as Whitebox are not taken seriously. The influence of Big Pharma through lobbying with government bodies and participating in government working groups is particularly acute. They closely cooperate with a few IT companies to realize their ideal of large and centralized networks and systems. It’s their year-end bonus and growth at the expense of our freedom and well-being.
Media & privacy
Naturally, we cannot overlook ‘fake news’. One of the premises for having privacy is being able to form your own opinion and respect and learn from the opinions of others. Furthermore, independent left and right-wing media are essential in a democratic constitutional State. It's their task to monitor the functioning of elected and unelected representatives in politics and in government. Journalists should be able to penetrate into the capillaries of society in order to produce local, national and global news.
Ever since free news gathering came about, it has been a challenge to obtain news based on facts. It’s not always easy to distinguish a press service, PR and propaganda from one another. In times of rapid technological changes and new opportunities, they should be continuously reviewed according to the principles of journalism. That’s nothing new. What is new, however, is that the European Union and our own Minister for the Interior, Kajsa Ollongren, feel they’re doing the right thing by outsourcing censorship to social media companies that are active on a global scale and have proven to be unreliable.
While Facebook and Google have to defend themselves in court for spreading fake news and censoring accounts, the governments hand over the monitoring task to them. The privacy violators and fake news distributors as the guardians of our privacy and journalism. That’s the world upside down. By so doing, this minister and this government undermine the constitutional State and show disdain for intelligent citizens. It’s time for a structural change in our media system, based on new technologies such as blockchain and the founding of a government media office whose task is to fund all media outlets through citizens’ contributions, taking into account the media’s scope and number of members. So that concerns all media, including the so-called alternative media, which should not be censored.
Finance & privacy
The erosion of one’s privacy increasingly manifests itself at a financial level too. The fact of the matter is, that the tax authorities already know in detail what the spending pattern of all companies and citizens looks like. Thanks to the Tapping Law, they can now pass on this information in real-time to the secret services (the General Intelligence and Security Service is watching along). Furthermore, a well-intended initiative such as PSD2 is being introduced in a wholly improvident and privacy-unfriendly way: basic conditions relating to the ownership of bank details (of citizens, account holders) are devoid of substance. Simple features such as selective sharing of banking details, for example according to the type of payment or time period, are not available. What’s more, payment details of third parties who have not given their consent, are sent along.
In the meantime, the ‘cash = criminal’ campaign goes on relentlessly. The right to cash and anonymous payment disappears, despite even the Dutch Central Bank now warning that the role of cash is crucial to our society. Privacy First has raised its opinion on this topic already in 2016 during a public debate. The latest development in this regard is the further linking of information through Big Data and profiling by debt-collecting agencies and public authorities. Excluding citizens from the electronic monetary system as a new form of punishment instead of letting them pay fines is a not so distant prospect. In this regard, a lot of experimentation is going on in China and there have been calls in Europe to move in the same direction, supposedly in order to fight terrorism. In other words, in the future it will become increasingly difficult to raise your voice and organize against abuse of power by governments and companies: from on high it takes only the press of a button and you may no longer be able to withdraw cash, travel or carry out online activities. In which case you have become an electronic outcast, banished from society.
Public domain & privacy
In 2018, privacy in public space has all but improved. Whereas 20 years ago, the Netherlands was deemed too small to require everyone out on the streets to be able to identify themselves, by now, all governments and municipalities in Europe are developing ‘smart city’ concepts. If you ask what the benefits and use of a smart city are (beyond the permanent supervision of citizens), proponents will say something vague about traffic problems and that the 'killer applications' will become visible only once the network of beacons is in place. In other words, there are absolutely no solid figures which would justify the necessity, subsidiarity and proportionality of smart cities. And that’s not even taking basic civil rights such as privacy into consideration.
Just to give a few examples:
- ANPR legislation applies from 1 January 2019 (all travel movements on public roads will be stored in a centralized police database for four weeks)
- A database consisting of all travel movements and stays of European citizens and toll rates as per 2023
- Emergency chips in every vehicle with a two-way communication feature (better known as spyware) as per 1 January 2019
- Cameras and two-way communication in public space, built into the lampposts among other objects as part of smart city projects
- A decision to introduce additional cameras in public transport as per 2019
- The introduction of Smart Cities and the introduction of unlimited beacons (doesn’t it sound so much better than electronic concentration camp posts?)
- Linking together all traffic centers and control rooms (including those of security companies operating on the private market)
- Citizens are permanently monitored by invisible and unknown eyes.
Private domain & privacy
It’s well known that governments and companies are keen to take a peek in our homes, but the extent to which this was being advanced last year, was outside of all proportion. Let’s start with energy companies, who foist compulsory smart meters on citizens. By way of ‘appointment to install a smart meter’, which you didn’t ask for, it’s almost impossible to stay clear of red tape. After several cancellations on my part and phone calls to energy provider Nuon, they simply continued to push forward. I still don’t have a smart meter and it will stay like that.
Once again Silicon Valley featured prominently in the news in 2018. Unelected dictatorial executives who are no less powerful than many a nation state, promote their utopias as trendy and modern among citizens. Self-driving cars take the autonomy and joy away from citizens (the number of accidents is very small considering the millions of cars on the road each day), while even children can tell that a hybrid approach is the only option. The implementation of smart speakers by these social media companies is downright spooky. By bringing smart toys onto the market, toy manufacturers equally respond to the needs that we all seem to have. We can all too readily guess what these developments will mean for our privacy. The manipulation of facts and images as well as distortion, will starkly increase.
Children & privacy
Children and youths represent the future and nothing of the above bodes well for them. Screen addiction is sharply on the rise and as children are being raised amidst propaganda and fake news, much more attention should go out to forming one’s own opinion and taking responsibility. Centralized pupil monitoring systems are introduced indifferently in the education system, information is exchanged with parents and not having interactive whiteboards and Ipads in the classroom has become unthinkable. The first thing children see every single day, is a screen with Google on it... Big Brother.
Dependence on the internet and social media results in impulsive behaviour among children, exposes them to the madness of the day and affects their historical awareness and ability to discern underlying links. The way of thinking at universities is becoming increasingly one-sided and undesirable views are marginalized. The causes of problems are not examined, books are not read though there is certainly no lack of opinions. It’s all about making your voice heard within the limits of self-censorship that’s in force in order to prevent becoming the odd one out in the group. The same pattern can be identified when it comes to forming opinions in politics, where discussing various issues based on facts seems no longer possible. Not to mention that the opinions of citizens are considered irrelevant by our politicians. Good quality education focused on forming opinions and on creating self-reflective minds instead of a robot-way of thinking, is essential for the development of a healthy democracy.
Are there any positive developments?
It's no easy task to identify any positive developments in the field of privacy. The fact is that the introduction of the GDPR and the corresponding option to impose fines has brought privacy more sharply into focus among companies and citizens than the revelations of Snowden have been able to do. The danger of the GDPR, however, is that it narrows down privacy to data protection and administrative red tape.
Another positive development is the growing number of (as of yet small) initiatives whereby companies and governments consider privacy protection as a business or PR opportunity. This is proved by the number of participants in the 2019 Dutch Privacy Awards. Recurring themes are means of anonymous communication (email, search engines, browsers), possible alternatives to social networks (messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) on the basis of subscriptions, blockchain technology and privacy by design projects by large organizations and companies.
Privacy First has teamed up with a few top quality pro bono attorneys who are prepared to represent us in court. However, judges are reluctant to go off the beaten track and come up with progressive rulings in cases such as those concerning number plate parking, average speed checks, Automatic Number Plate Recognition, the Tapping Law, etc. For years, Privacy First has been suffering from a lack of funding. Many of those who sympathize with us, find the topic of privacy a bit eerie. They support us morally but don’t dare to make a donation. After all, you draw attention to yourself when you’re concerned with issues such as privacy. That’s how bad things have become; fear and self-censorship... two bad counsellors! It’s high time for a government that seriously deals with privacy issues.
Constitutional reform should urgently be placed on the agenda
Privacy First is a great proponent of constitutional reform (see our 2017 New Year’s column about Shared Democracy), based on the principles of the democratic constitutional State and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Our democracy is only 150 years old and should be adapted to this current day and age. This means that the structure of the EU should be changed. Citizens should take on a central and active role. Government policies should focus on technological developments in order to reinforce democracy and formulate a response to the concentration of power of multinational companies.
Privacy First argues that the establishment of a Ministry of Technology has the highest priority in order to be able to stay up to date with the rapid developments in this field and produce adequate policies accordingly. It should live up to the standards of the ECHR and the Dutch Constitution and avoid becoming a victim of the increasing lobbying efforts in this sector. Moreover, it is time for a Minister of IT & Privacy who stays up to date on all developments and acts with sufficient powers and in accordance with the review of a Constitutional Court.
The protection of citizens’ privacy should be facilitated and there should be privacy-friendly alternatives for current services by technology companies. For 2019, Privacy First has a few tips for ordinary citizens:
- Watch out for and stay away from ‘smart’ initiatives on the basis of Big Data and profiling!
- Keep an eye on the ‘cash = criminal’ campaign. Make at least 50% of your payments anonymously in cash.
- Be cautious when communicating through Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Look for or develop new platforms based on Quantum AI encryption and use alternative browsers (TOR), networks (VPN) and search engines (Startpage).
- Be careful when it comes to medical data and physical integrity. Use your right for there to be no exchange of medical data as long as initiatives such as Whitebox are not used.
- Be aware of your right to stay anonymous, at home and in public space. Campaign against toll payment, microchips in number plates, ANPR and number plate parking.
- Be aware of your legal rights to bring lawsuits, for example against personalized waste disposal passes, camera surveillance, etc.
- Watch out for ‘smart’ meters, speakers, toys and other objects in the house connected to the internet. Purchase only privacy by design solutions with privacy enhanced technology!
The Netherlands and Europe as guiding nations in the field of privacy, with groundbreaking initiatives and solutions for apparent contradictions concerning privacy and security issues - that’s Privacy First's aim. There’s still a long way to go, however, and we’re being blown off course ever more. That’s due in part because a comprehensive vision on our society and a democracy 3.0 is lacking. So we continue to drift rudderless, ending up in the big manipulation machine of large companies one step at a time. We need many more yellow vests before things change. Privacy First would like to contribute to shaping and promoting a comprehensive, positive vision for the future. A future based on the principles that our society was built on and the need for greater freedom, with all the inevitable restrictions this entails. We will have to do it together. Please support Privacy First actively with a generous donation for your own freedom and that of your children in 2019!
To an open and free society! I wish everyone a lot of privacy in 2019 and beyond!
Bas Filippini, Privacy First chairman
Privacy First has had a turbulent year. At the start of 2018, we organized the Dutch Privacy Awards and they were a great success. Soon this event will take place again. The greatest success of the year, however, was the referendum against the new Dutch Intelligence and Security Services Act (better known as the Tapping Law), which was won by the initiators and their many supporters. Subsequently however, the Dutch government decided to ruthlessly abolish the referendum and Privacy First and others unfortunately were not in a position to prevent the Tapping Law from entering into force almost unaltered. Unless the Dutch government and the House of Representatives decide to thoroughly overhaul the Act, a large scale new lawsuit to challenge it will be on the cards.
In terms of organization, the year has been marked mostly by positive developments. Since the summer, we have a new board of directors, a new advisory board and a new and relatively cheap (small) office on an excellent location. We have switched to privacy-friendly telecom provider Voys. Increasingly, Privacy First is approached by public authorities and companies to cooperate on privacy projects, for example with regard to the infamous European payments directive PSD2, which will soon enter into force in the Netherlands. In addition, Privacy First almost continuously pursues political lobbying and quiet diplomacy. Earlier this year, we’ve lobbied successfully with the Dutch State Commission on the Parliamentary System for the introduction of a binding referendum and a Constitutional Court. Moreover, we’ve made our critical voice heard with regard to the possible introduction of Passenger Name Records (PNR) in aviation and Taser weapons among the Dutch police force. After all, privacy is a broad term and is about much more than data protection only.
However, history has taught us that sustainable privacy protection usually requires legal action at a national or European level. That’s why Privacy First also pursues litigation. Those who’ve been acquainted with us for some time, know that when Privacy First starts legal proceedings, something is really going on - something, to be precise, which isn’t for the better. As soon as large scale privacy violations are imminent, it’s time for Privacy First to step in. This is one such moment. Your support of our operations is indispensable.
Case against ANPR Act
In recent years, Privacy First has regularly warned against the introduction of a new draconian Dutch law which allows for the continuous storage of data relating to travel movements of millions of motorists for four weeks in a central police database, regardless of whether or not these motorists are suspected of any wrongdoing. This is the Automatic Number Plate Recognition Act (ANPR). At the end of 2017, the Dutch Senate adopted this Act, after which Privacy First announced it would initiate legal proceedings. Subsequently, Privacy First had a meeting with the Dutch State Attorney, which was followed by a prolonged silence. Today however, the Dutch government announced it will introduce the ANPR Act as per 1 January 2019. Therefore, Privacy First is currently preparing interim injunction proceedings in order to render this Act inoperative on account of violation of the right to privacy. If necessary, these proceedings will be followed by proceedings which are broader in scope and will deal with the merits of the case. Indeed, this Act is a massive breach of privacy for which there is simply no place in a free and democratic constitutional State. Through Pro Bono Connect, Privacy First has hired law firm CMS to carry out proceedings on our behalf. Ideally, this would happen in coalition with other relevant organizations.
Urgent call for donations
Due to unexpected fundraising setbacks, at present Privacy First urgently needs financial support, including your support as a (potential) donor. The more support we get, the more thorough and therefore the more effective we will be able to conduct these legal proceedings and the more likely it will be we will come out victorious. Would you like to support Privacy First? Donating is very easy on the dedicated page on our website. Otherwise, please donate directly to account number NL95ABNA0495527521 (BIC: ABNANL2A) in the name of Stichting Privacy First in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, stating ‘donation’. Privacy First is recognized by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration as an Institution for General Benefit (ANBI). Therefore your donations are tax-deductible.
In recent years, Privacy First has had a lot of positive influence thanks to your support. We hope to be able to count on you once again!
Privacy First wishes you happy holidays and a privacy-friendly 2019!
On November 2nd 2016, the Dutch House of Representatives will address a controversial legislative proposal that will introduce four week storage of the travel movements of all motorists in the Netherlands. In case both chambers of Dutch Parliament adopt this proposal, Privacy First will try to overturn this in court.
Large scale breach of privacy
It is Privacy First’s constant policy to challenge large scale privacy violations in court and have them declared unlawful. Privacy First successfully did so with the central storage of everyone’s fingerprints under the Dutch Passport Act and the storage of everyone’s communications data under the Dutch Telecommunications Retention Act. A current and similar legislative proposal that lends itself for another major lawsuit is legislative proposal 33542 (in Dutch) of the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, Ard van der Steur, in relation to Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Under this legislative proposal, the number plate codes of all motorists in the Netherlands, i.e. everyone’s travel movements, will be collected through camera surveillance and stored for four weeks in police databases for criminal investigation purposes. As a result, every motorist will become a potential suspect. This is a completely unnecessary, wholly disproportionate and ineffective measure. Therefore the proposal is in breach of the right to privacy and thus unlawful.
The current ANPR legislative proposal was already submitted to the Dutch House of Representatives in February 2013 by the then Minister of Security and Justice, Ivo Opstelten. Before that, in 2010, Opstelten’s predecessor Hirsch Ballin had the intention to submit a similar proposal, albeit with a storage period of 10 days. However, back then the House of Representatives declared this subject to be controversial. Opstelten and Van der Steur have thus now taken things a few steps further. Due to privacy concerns, the parliamentary scrutiny of this proposal was at a standstill for several years, but now seems to be reactivated and even reinforced through a six-fold increase of the proposed retention period, courtesy of the ruling parties VVD and PvdA.
Under current Dutch national law, ANPR data of innocent citizens must be erased within 24 hours. In the eyes of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, AP), all number plate codes that are not suspect (so-called ‘no-hits’) are to be removed from relevant databases immediately. Van der Steur’s plan to also store the number plate codes of unsuspected citizens for four weeks directly flies in the face of this. VVD and PvdA are even willing to increase this retention period to six months. The inevitable consequence, a haystack of data, would constitute a blatant violation of the right to privacy of every motorist. Any possible judicial oversight of the use of these data would do nothing to alter this.
UN Human Rights Council
In recent years, Privacy First has repeatedly expressed this position to both the House of Representatives (standing committee on Security and Justice) as well as to relevant MPs personally. Privacy First has also made its stance clear in personal meetings with Minister Opstelten (July 2012) and Minister Van der Steur (July 2014, at that time still a VVD MP). Moreover, Privacy First has recently raised this issue with the United Nations. In May 2017, the Dutch government can be held accountable for this at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In case both the House of Representatives and the Dutch Senate will adopt the ANPR legislative proposal in its current form, Privacy First (in a broad coalition together with other civil organizations) will immediately summon the Dutch government in order to render the law inoperative on account of violation of the right to privacy. If necessary, Privacy First and co-plaintiffs will litigate all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Considering the European and Dutch case law on the subject, Privacy First rates its chances of legal success very high.
Update 20 December 2018: today the Dutch government has announced that the ANPR Act will enter into force on 1 January 2019. The summary proceedings of Privacy First against the ANPR Act will soon take place at the District Court of The Hague.
"Holland sammelt unbändig Daten. Neue digitale Produkte dienen der totalen Überwachung. Und sind eine große Gefahr für die Gesellschaft.
Hinter den Dünen, ein paar hundert Meter vom Strand entfernt, liegt in Noordwijk der futuristische Bau von Decos. Das niederländische Software-Unternehmen hat sich eine neue Zentrale geleistet – einem eingeschlagenen Meteoriten ist sie nachempfunden, es könnte auch ein Raumschiff sein. Hier setzen IT-Spezialisten die digitale Zukunft durch: den völlig papierlosen Betrieb. Mitarbeiter kommunizieren ausschließlich elektronisch, und wer dem Unternehmen einen Brief schreibt, bekommt ihn zurück mit der Aufforderung, ihn nochmals zu senden, aber bitte als E-Mail.
Auch seinen Kunden bietet Decos Digitalisierung pur: Das Unternehmen liefert ihnen Software, um alle Dokumente elektronisch zu speichern – aber auch Produkte zur totalen Überwachung von Mitarbeitern. Sein „Cartracker" verfolgt jede Dienstreise, alle fünf Sekunden wird das Fahrzeug frisch verortet. „Hiermit haben Sie immer eine aktuelle Übersicht, wo sich Ihre Autos und Mitarbeiter befinden", wirbt Decos. Mehr noch: Der Fahrstil wird ständig überwacht und sogar benotet: „Aufgrund der Höchstgeschwindigkeit, des Bremsverhaltens und der Beschleunigung berechnet ,Decos Cartracker' eine individuelle Zensur für das Fahrverhalten jedes Fahrers."
Digitalisierung wird zur Norm
Nun mag es bei Geldtransportern noch sinnig sein, ihnen aus Sicherheitsgründen aus der Ferne zu folgen. In allen anderen Fällen gilt: Wohl dem, der einen weniger progressiven Arbeitgeber hat – einen, der vertraut, statt nonstop zu überwachen. Aber die Digitalisierung nimmt zu, sie wird zur Norm – und das nicht nur im Beruf, auch im öffentlichen Raum. Und die Niederlande sind hier in mancherlei Hinsicht schon weiter fortgeschritten als Deutschland.
Im Juli schaffte das Land endgültig die Fahrkarte aus Papier im öffentlichen Verkehr ab – für die zuvor schon schrittweise eingeführte „ÖV-Chipkarte", die den Preis in der Regel je Kilometer berechnet. Für den Kunden bedeutet sie außer 7,50 Euro Anschaffungskosten vor allem Umstände: für das Aufladen, für das Ein- und Auschecken bei jeder Fahrt. Wer das versäumt oder an einen kaputten Kartenleser gerät, ist schnell ein Sümmchen los; man muss dann auf Kulanz hoffen und per Online-Antrag versuchen, es erstattet zu bekommen.
Anonymität hat ihren Preis
Was aber noch schwerer wiegt: Die Chipkarte speichert so die Fahrstrecke – und da die Standardversion alle wesentlichen Nutzerdaten enthält (inklusive Kontonummer), kann sie das Reiseverhalten des Bürgers erfassen. Wer anonym mit einem Einmal-Ticket fahren will, muss Aufschlag zahlen – nicht viel, einen Euro momentan, aber immerhin; und vielleicht ist das ja auch nur der Anfang. Viel gravierender noch: Wer eine Studenten- oder Rentnerkarte braucht, muss zwingend die personengebundene Version mit den Daten wählen. Natürlich versichern die Betreiber, alles vertraulich zu behandeln. Aber wer sich darauf verlässt, ist naiv. Wo immer auf der Welt digital gespeichert wird: Die Vorfälle sind Legion, in denen Patienten-, Sozial- oder andere Daten missbraucht wurden – oder massenweise verfügbar, sei es versehentlich, sei es durch Hacker.
Natürlich gibt es in Deutschland den ähnlichen Fall: wenn jemand mit seiner Bahncard Punkte sammelt. Aber das macht er dann freiwillig. Und es ist wichtig aufzupassen, dass die öffentlichen Verkehrsträger hierzulande nicht dem Beispiel aus dem Ausland folgen. Generell ist Obacht schon geboten, wann immer die Preisgabe von Daten belohnt wird – wie bei dem Vorstoß eines deutschen Autoversicherers, Rabatt zu gewähren, wenn der Autohalter einen digitalen Fahrtenschreiber (Blackbox) installiert. Denn das läuft schnell darauf hinaus, dass er umgekehrt für das Recht auf Anonymität einen Malus bekommt.
Erstaunlich ist, dass ein Land wie die Niederlande so unbändig Daten sammelt – sieht es sich doch gerne als „gidsland": als internationales Vorbild, wenn es um Politik, Verwaltung, gesellschaftliche Werte und Normen geht. „Von allen Menschenrechten steht das Recht auf Privatsphäre in den Niederlanden am meisten unter Druck", befindet die Stiftung Privacy First.
Mal führen die Behörden Sicherheit als Argument für die Digitalisierung an, mal Effizienz. Nach Amsterdam führt jetzt auch Rotterdam stadtweit das „Kennzeichenparken" ein: Wer das Auto abstellt, muss am Automaten die Buchstaben und Ziffern des Nummernschilds eingeben. Mit Bargeld darf er auch nicht mehr zahlen, nur mit Karte oder per Mobiltelefon – auch dies ein nationaler Trend. Wieder eine digitale Spur hinterlassen, wieder ein Stück Anonymität dahin. (...) [A]ls Nächstes eine Pflicht für Smart Meters in Wohnungen: Ablesegeräte, die viel mehr erfassen können als nur den Energieverbrauch in den Wohnungen. Die Industrie lobbyiere schon kräftig dafür. Nicht zu reden von den zahllosen Überwachungskameras in Städten, der massenweisen Kennzeichenerfassung auf Autobahnen und Polizeidrohnen mit Kamera. Die Bedenken der Datenschützer werden gerne abgetan: Wer nichts zu verbergen hat, muss doch nichts befürchten? Aber das ist die falsche Haltung, sie kehrt ein grundlegendes Recht um: das Recht, sich unbewacht zu bewegen."
Source: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/digitalisierung-big-brother-in-holland-13092653.html, 12 August 2014.
"Eine der wichtigsten Errungenschaften der EU ist ohne Zweifel der freie Personenverkehr. Wie frei dieser in Zukunft sein wird, ist allerdings die Frage.
Ende August gab Innenministerin Johanna Mikl-Leitner ihre Absicht bekannt, die Grenzen künftig mit computergesteuerten Kameras zu überwachen. Als Beispiel dient ein ähnliches System an den holländischen Grenzen. Laut Robert Strondl, Abteilungsleiter in der Generaldirektion für öffentliche Sicherheit, soll es demnächst eine Erkundungsmission in die Niederlande geben. „Es ist nicht die Absicht, das System eins zu eins zu übernehmen, sondern wir wollen uns die ‚Goodies' rausholen."
Proteste aus Deutschland
@migo boras heißt das System, das seit einem Jahr die wichtigsten niederländischen Grenzübergänge bewacht. Ein Computerprogramm in der Kamera registriert Kennzeichen, Typus und Passagiere der Fahrzeuge. Wenn es eine Übereinstimmung mit Polizeidaten gibt, wird das Auto angehalten. Nicht nur wegen seines Namens ruft das System Erinnerungen an Orwells Big Brother wach. Ist es Zufall, dass Big Brother auch der Name eines der erfolgreichsten niederländischen Fernsehformate ist? Wie es jetzt aussieht, dürfte @migo boras ein ähnlicher Exportschlager werden, denn auch in Großbritannien und den USA wird die Technologie inzwischen verwendet.
Unumstritten ist das Ganze allerdings nicht. Als die niederländische Regierung ihre Pläne bekannt machte, gab es massive Proteste von deutschen Datenschützern und Politikern, die meinten, dass es gegen das Schengener Abkommen verstoßen würde. Und aus diesem Grund wurde das System in einer abgeschwächten Form eingeführt. So dürfen die Kameras maximal 90 Stunden pro Monat und nicht mehr als sechs Stunden pro Tag eingeschaltet sein. (...)
Nur dumme Verbrecher
Ähnlich sieht es Vincent Böhre von der niederländischen Organisation Privacy First, die sich für den Schutz der Privatsphäre einsetzt. Gegenüber Public meint Böhre, dass nur „dumme Verbrecher" erwischt werden. „Die organisierte Kriminalität passt sich an. Die nehmen Schleichwege oder fahren statt mit rumänischen Kleinbussen mit französischen oder mit deutschen BMWs." Möglicherweise ist das System sogar kontraproduktiv: „Die Gefahr besteht, dass sich die Polizei zu sehr auf die Technik verlässt und viel Zeit verliert mit der Anhaltung von unbescholtenen Bürgern." Den Erfolg bei der Bekämpfung von illegaler Immigration sieht Böhre im Promillebereich: „Das wirft die Frage auf nach der Verhältnismäßigkeit eines Systems, das an die 20 Millionen Euro gekostet hat."
Noch bedenklicher findet er, dass juristische Grundsätze umgekehrt werden: „Früher war es so, dass die Polizei ein Auto nur anhielt, wenn es einen begründeten Verdacht auf ein Verbrechen gab. Bei @migo boras wird automatisch jedes Fahrzeug registriert und mit der Datenbank verglichen." Das Ganze erinnere laut Böhre an eine „militärische Operation". „Eines der größten Probleme des Systems ist aber, dass es keine gesetzliche Grundlage gibt, obwohl das eigentlich der Fall sein sollte bei einer Beschränkung der Privatsphäre."
Eines müssen die Kritiker aber zugeben: Zu einem großen öffentlichen Aufschrei hat @migo boras bisher nicht geführt. Abgesehen von einigen kritischen Zeitungs- und Fernsehberichten konnte die Regierung es quasi durch die Hintertür einführen. Wie bei den traditionellen holländischen Fenstern mit offenen Vorhängen, durch die jeder gleich ins Wohnzimmer blicken kann, haben die Niederländer anscheinend wenige Probleme damit, dass der Staat durch ihr Autofenster schaut. Ohne Zweifel spielt dabei eine Rolle, dass Ereignisse wie die Morde an Pim Fortuyn und dem Filmemacher Theo van Gogh das Gefühl von Sicherheit nachhaltig zerstört haben.
Keine bösartigen Regierungen
Der Journalist Bart de Koning, Autor des Buches „Alles onder controle" („Alles unter Kontrolle"), sieht aber auch tiefere Gründe: „Themen wie Bürgerrechte bekommen hier sehr wenig Aufmerksamkeit. Im Grunde genommen sind die Holländer da ziemlich naiv. Wenn man ihnen sagt, dass es um die Sicherheit geht, nehmen sie leicht eine Beschränkung der Privatsphäre in Kauf." Zu einem Teil würde dies mit der Geschichte zusammenhängen: „Während die Deutschen ihre Erfahrungen mit der Nazizeit und der Stasi gemacht haben, können sich die Holländer noch immer schwer vorstellen, dass der Staat auch bösartig sein kann." (...)
Ein Amigo an jeder Laterne
In dieser Hinsicht können sich die holländischen Datenschützer auf etwas gefasst machen. Vor kurzem kündigte Innenminister Ivo Opstelten seine Pläne an, nicht nur an den Grenzen, sondern an allen Autobahnen die Kennzeichen automatisch registrieren zu lassen und die Daten vier Wochen lang zu speichern. Für Bas Filippini, den Gründer von Privacy First, ist @migo boras nur der Anfang einer unheilvollen Entwicklung: „Ich lebe gerne in einer freien Umgebung und suche selbst meine Freunde aus ... Bald hängt aber an jeder Laterne ein Amigo, der registriert, was wir machen.""
Source: Public (magazine for Austrian municipalities), November 2013, pp. 36-37. Click HERE to read the full article online on the Public website.
From the response to Parliamentary questions (in Dutch) it emerged this week that there is no specific legal basis for the secret use of drones by police in the
Without a specific legal basis in accordance with Article 8 paragraph 2 ECHR, every police drone constitutes an inadequate means of criminal investigation that shouldn't be used. Therefore the use of such drones should be suspended with immediate effect. In individual criminal cases, it is up to the judge to exclude information gathered with police drones from legal proceedings as it concerns unlawfully obtained evidence.
Privacy First hereby makes an urgent appeal to the Dutch House of Representatives to institute a moratorium on the further use of drones. Such a moratorium should only be lifted after a broad democratic debate has taken place and the use of drones has been properly regulated. In case the current Dutch situation will continue to be politically tolerated, Privacy First reserves the right to enforce a moratorium in court.
"Die niederländische Polizei hat seit 2009 in 132 Fällen Drohnen eingesetzt, um unterschiedliche Straftaten zu klären oder Lagebilder zu erstellen. Die Verfolgung von Fluchtautos mit Kameras und das Aufspüren von Cannabis-Plantagen mit Wärmekameras bildeten dabei die Mehrzahl der Einsätze. Dies geht aus Angaben des niederländischen Infrastruktur- und Innenministeriums hervor, das allerdings Details zu den Drohnen-Einsätzen verweigerte. Das findet der anfragende Abgeordnete Gerard Schouw von der Partei D66 untragbar: Der Drohneneinsatz müsse öffentlich kontrollierbar sein und eine rechtliche Grundlage haben.
Gegenüber dem niederländischen Programm von RTL erklärte Schouw, dass ohne genaue Auskünfte und Kontrollmöglichkeiten der Einsatz von Drohnen in einer Grauzone stattfinde. "Aus welcher Entfernung werden da unschuldige Bürger gefilmt? Niemand hat eine Ahnung, was da passiert."
Unterstützung erhielt Schouw von der niederländischen Datenschutzorganisation Privacy First. Deren Anwalt Vincent Böhre erklärte, dass die Kameraüberwachung mit Drohnen eine Überwachungstechnik ist, die nach dem niederländischen Recht nicht erlaubt sei.
Ähnlich äußerte sich der Jurist Leon Wecke von der Universität Radboud. "Wir werden überall von Kameras verfolgt. Nun sind es auch noch Drohnen, denen wir uns nicht bewusst sind." Dies sei eine Verletzung der Privatsphäre, erklärte Wecke gegenüber dem Internet-Nachrichten Nu.nl. Drohnen bedürften daher einer eigenständigen gesetzlichen Regelung, betonte Wecke. Zu den Drohneneinsätzen soll es in Arnhem, Amsterdam, Almere und Rotterdam gekommen sein. Wegen fortlaufender technischer Probleme soll die Amsterdamer Polizei ihre Drohnen inzwischen außer Dienst gestellt haben.
In Deutschland hatten zuletzt die Grünen auf einer Fachtagung über den Einsatz von Drohnen diskutiert und dabei über Polizeidrohnen ebenso wie über Militärdrohnen gesprochen. Die Videos dieser Tagung sind mittlerweile online verfügbar."
Source: Heise Online, 23 March 2013.
"The police are increasingly using unmanned aircraft in their efforts to track down criminals in the Netherlands, leading to MPs' questions about the privacy implications.
Drones - small helicopters equipped with cameras - are used to trace burglars and getaway cars as well as illegal marijuana plantations. For example, Harlingen borrowed two drones from the defence ministry last year after a spate of burglaries in the Frisian town.
Since 2009, drones have been used in at least 40 areas, the AD reported on Monday. In total, they were in the air on at least 132 different days.
D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw has asked the justice ministry to explain the implications of the use of drones on privacy.
'I understand they can be useful, but they need to have a basis in law,' he is quoted as saying by RTL news. 'How closely can innocent citizens be filmed. No-one has a clue what they are filming.'
Lawyer Vincent Böhre from the Privacy First foundation said the use of drones is illegal because the flights are not made public.
'It is a form of camera supervision which is not allowed under Dutch law,' he told the broadcaster. The use of drones also infringes European privacy laws, he said.
Amsterdam city council said earlier this year it had grounded its two €29,000 drones because of continuing technical problems."
Source: Expatica.com (Netherlands), 18 March 2013.