Machine translations by Deepl

Interview with Privacy First on new ANPR law

"With license plate cameras, police and justice fight criminals. But the cameras above and along roads and motorways record the data of every road user. Information that, it is intended, may soon be stored for four weeks. Privacy organisations are vehemently against this and are preparing a lawsuit."

This interview was conducted 17 November 2018 published on BN/DeStem

Fugitive criminals, car thieves, burglars. The so-called ANPR system should significantly increase the chances of police apprehending them. ANPR stands for automatic numberplate recognition. In short, number plate recognition. The cameras make recordings of license plates. These are compared with data in police computers about people who are wanted or have outstanding fines. If the name appears in police files, the motorist can be fined or arrested.

The cameras have been hanging over highways for years, currently there are an estimated 450. In addition, about 150 police cars are equipped with mobile ANPR cameras. And since this year, provincial roads across the country have been equipped with 200 ANPR cameras. (...)


Until now, the millions of licence plate data of road users who do not appear in any file are deleted immediately, or at least within 24 hours. But at the insistence of the police and judiciary, the House of Representatives and the Senate last year approved a bill providing for data retention for a period of four weeks. This allows the police to make longer use of the data when investigating a crime or arresting fugitives.


Privacy advocates warn that innocent citizens also end up in police systems. Like Privacy First, an independent foundation aiming to promote the right to privacy. Director Vincent Böhre is 100 per cent convinced that the new law violates citizens' rights. "We are talking about hundreds of cameras recording data of road users. If you store these en masse for a period of a month for detection and prosecution, you treat the entire population as potential criminals in advance. Or as terrorists, because the database will also be used by the AIVD. It will have direct access to that database", said Böhre.

But if I have nothing to hide, then my data being stored is no big deal, right?

- Who doesn't know him...

Böhre: "Let me turn it around. If you have nothing to hide, then you are innocent, and then your data does not need to be stored. People who have nothing to hide should stay out of the crosshairs of the police and judiciary and be able to move and travel freely around the Netherlands. Now it is the case that if you are not on a police and justice search list, your data will be deleted within 24 hours. We can live with that, although immediate erasure would be better."

Entry into force

The new law, intended to perpetuate the storage of data for up to four weeks, is not yet in force. The Council of State recently issued an opinion on the executive order that Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) took earlier this year. "We have indeed received that opinion," said a ministry spokesperson. "We cannot make any announcements about its content at this time. Nor can we say anything about the date of entry into force. That has yet to be decided." (...)


Böhre fears that the number of ANPR cameras will only increase in the coming years. "How far do we want to go with this kind of technology? Again, I think we should try to set up society in such a way that innocent citizens are kept out of the sights of investigative and intelligence agencies as much as possible and can feel free."

As soon as it is known exactly what the new law will look like, Privacy First, together with the Platform for the Protection of Civil Rights, will strain sue. "We expect other organisations to join us."