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Privacy First lawsuit against route controls

As televised on 4 April by Privacy First announced At RTL News: 

A unique court hearing will take place at the Utrecht District Court on Tuesday 28 April: the case of Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini against route controls. Privacy First considers route controls to be a massive violation of privacy. After all, at section controls, everyone is tracked by the government, including the majority of motorists who are not speeding. There is no specific legal basis for this. This violates the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Grounds for the case

In October 2012, Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini received a fine for speeding on the A2 motorway. Filippini challenged this fine by invoking privacy violations: due to section controls, all motorists are continuously monitored. As a result, every motorist becomes a potential suspect. This constitutes a reversal of the classic principle in a democratic constitutional state: the government may only invade privacy when there is a reasonable suspicion of a concrete criminal offence. Privacy First wants this to be tested by the courts and is prepared to continue litigating for this up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


Privacy First stands for the classic right to freedom and anonymity in public spaces. This right derives from Article 8 ECHR. Route checks are a serious infringement of this right. Under the ECHR, such infringements are only allowed to the extent of strict privacy safeguards. Moreover, Article 10 of the Dutch Constitution requires a specific legal basis for this. However, specific legislation for route controls does not exist to date. Road section controls therefore violate both the Constitution and the ECHR.

Unique case

Unique to this case is the constitutional aspect: as one of the few countries in the world, Dutch judges are not allowed to test laws against the Constitution. Many cases therefore test purely against the ECHR. However, route controls are not a law, but a national practice. That practice should be tested by the courts against both the ECHR and the Constitution.

Public court hearing

The court case against route controls will take place on Tuesday 28 April at 11 am at the District Court of Midden-Nederland (Utrecht location, Mulder affairs department). The court hearing is public: you are most welcome! Click HERE for directions. Case number: 2746811 UM VERZ 14-358, L.T.C. Filippini vs CVOM.

Also read the recent column from our chairman and listen HERE Two radio interviews about the trial.

Update 28 April 2015: this morning, the court hearing took place in a well-filled room at the Central Netherlands District Court. On behalf of Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini, our lawyer Benito Boer (Alt Kam Boer Lawyers, The Hague) spoke; click pdfHERE for the pleading and pdfHERE for our president's earlier appeal (pdf). During the hearing, the prosecution confessed that all track control data from all motorists are kept for 72 hours and not purely used for speed checks: this data is also used for broader criminal investigation and prosecution. This is precisely the function creep (purpose shifting) that Privacy First already suspected and which this case opposes. Without a specific legal basis (which is lacking, the prosecution also acknowledged), such storage and use of route control data violate art 10 Constitution and art 8 ECHR. It is now up to the court to rule on this. The judge's ruling is scheduled for Tuesday 12 May next at 1pm.

Update 29 April 2015: click HERE for the report on the trial in the NOS News last night (from 14m50s) and listen to HERE our interviews yesterday on Radio 1, Radio 2 and BNR Nieuwsradio, among others. Also watch the report From RTV Utrecht.

Update 12 May 2015: Today, unfortunately, the judge did a disappointing ruling. Listen HERE our initial reaction at BNR Nieuwsradio and read HERE Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini's comments. Privacy First is considering further legal action.

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.