NRC Handelsblad, 31 Oct 2011: 'A day trip to Antwerp? The military police are watching'
"Whether camera surveillance at borders and highways reduces crime is unclear. But minister Opstelten wants a nationwide surveillance network.
The government expects a lot from a new camera system along the border. Even though its effectiveness has not been proven. Moreover, privacy experts have strong objections.
The borders in Europe disappeared? No way, from 1 January they will be back. Then the Netherlands will simply reintroduce border controls along its borders with Germany and Belgium. And unlike before the free movement of people in Europe, not a few, but all passing vehicles will be checked.
Sound unlikely? Yet it is true.
Does this mean traffic jams at the border again? No, because the strict customs officer has been replaced by a sophisticated camera linked to the military police's computers. Anyone driving a stolen car or otherwise attracting the interest of the military police will still be pulled over a few kilometres after the border.
@migo-boras is the mysterious name of the camera network currently being set up at 15 border crossings. Motorists passing there will soon be unable to avoid the digital eye of the authorities. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, the number of cameras along motorways is also growing rapidly.
And besides an eye, the government also gets a memory. If it is up to Minister Opstelten (Security and Justice, VVD), the millions of photos currently taken along the highways may soon be stored for weeks. It is still unclear whether this will also apply to the images from the new border cameras.
Just as mysterious as the name @migo-boras is the attitude of the Royal Military Police who - two months before the devices start flashing - do not want to tell how the border control system works. And what is the purpose of @migo-boras? Who will be pulled over and why? What exactly happens to the photos? The earliest this will be revealed is the end of December. A week before the actual implementation.
Documents obtained by invoking the Open Government Act offer some information. For instance, about that mysterious name. @migo-boras stands for 'automatic mobile information driven action - better operational result and advanced security'. Further, it appears that @migo-boras will soon be photographing the side of vehicles in addition to the registration number.
The European Commission is to request further information from the Netherlands on the new border control system @migo-boras. According to Brussels, it may violate European Schengen rules on free movement of people. This is the case, according to the Commission, if the camera surveillance is the equivalent of old-fashioned border controls. The Commission also assumed, based on the Dutch information, that @migo-boras only responds to license plates, while photos are taken of the entire vehicle, often showing its occupants.
Several police forces, meanwhile, are developing camera surveillance systems. The Amsterdam police, for instance, is thinking of a central control room where all camera images from the city will come together, from the ring road to the city centre. The Amsterdam police want to equip these cameras with facial recognition software. The Privacy First Foundation announced it would take the municipality to court over the plans. "Every citizen becomes a potential suspect because of this measure," chairman Bas Filippini told the site Nieuw Amsterdams Peil."
Source: NRC Handelsblad 31 October 2011, p. 6.