Incomprehensible verdict in Privacy First case against route controls
Today, the police judge of the Utrecht District Court handed down a disappointing ruling done in the Privacy First's case against route controls. Privacy First considers route controls to be a massive privacy violation. After all, with section controls, all motorists on the highway are tracked and stored in a police database for 72 hours. This therefore mainly concerns motorists who are not speeding.
Both the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) require a specific statutory regulation for this purpose with tough privacy safeguards. However, the subdistrict court considers route controls to be a "minor privacy violation" and considers the general Police Act and signs along the motorway to be sufficient privacy safeguards. Privacy First finds this incomprehensible and is considering further legal action.
Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini: "This is a political verdict right up the street of the prosecution and the police. Several top lawyers have indicated to us that they do not see any legal basis for this privacy violation. The Police Act is far too general, and signs along the motorway (a fine privacy measure according to the police judge) obviously offer no privacy guarantee. What should an innocent motorist on the highway do when he sees such a sign? Stop and turn around? The judge goes on to say that draft legislation is ready with even more draconian camera surveillance on motorways in the offing, so the current privacy violation is not so bad, in his opinion, and the Police Act is sufficient legal basis... Isn't the judge thereby anticipating the Lower House...?
Every motorist now ends up in a police database as a potential suspect and God knows how that data is used. It is a travesty that the courts agree with this and consider route controls to be only a "minor" invasion of everyone's privacy, while half of the Netherlands' motoring population continuously ends up in unverified police databases, several times a day!
This verdict makes the rule of law the big loser today. Privacy First is going to challenge this at the European Court of Human Rights and expects the judges in Strasbourg to make mincemeat of this verdict."
Update 2 December 2015: Following the Utrecht District Court's ruling, Privacy First recently filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Privacy First has since been waiting to see whether this complaint will be declared admissible by the Court and dealt with in substance.