NRC Handelsblad, 8 April 2014: 'In the House of Representatives, safety comes first'
"The Dutch government is slowly collecting more and more data from citizens. The government's proposals that could harm citizens' privacy are meeting with little resistance in the Senate and House of Representatives. The argument: we only use the information in specific cases. And for your own safety. For example, the police use this argument when requesting telecom information. They are allowed to request personal information associated with a phone number in case of suspicion of a serious crime. In 2012, the police did this a total of 2.7 million times. That means information was requested 7,557 times a day, 314 times an hour, every 12 seconds.
Minister Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice, VVD) wants to store even more data on citizens as part of the investigation of serious crimes, such as murder, threats or arson. This week, the Lower House is debating his proposal to allow car license plates to be stored for four weeks from now. In 2010, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (CBP) still called storing car license plates "a violation of civil rights". In the Lower House, only the SP, D66 and the Christian Union see little point in this plan. Sharon Gesthuizen (SP) said, "If everyone wears a bracelet and a satellite records where everyone is, it will be even easier to detect crime. Where is the limit?"
Minister Opstelten does consider the invasion of privacy in the storage of license plates to be proportionate. He calls the duration of storage "limited" and says that only the license plate number is stored, not the name of the driver. Moreover, not every officer will soon be able to access that data: only authorised investigating officers will have that power. Thus, citizens' privacy interests are adequately protected, the minister says.
Vincent Böhre of the Privacy First foundation thinks this is nonsense. "Opstelten's bill is draconian. As soon as it is passed, we will file a lawsuit to have the law declared unlawful." Böhre disputes the "substantial privacy violation" from a classic principle: the government should leave every innocent citizen alone. "That is absolutely not the case here. It is a disproportionate measure. Now data may be kept for 24 hours. And that hardly solves any crimes. Every motorist will soon be a potential suspect."
If the government continues to introduce laws that infringe on the private lives of unsuspecting citizens, those citizens will be left with little more than to go to court. And those will make a different trade-off between privacy and security, it emerged this morning. The European Court of Justice called the storage of personal data "a very extensive and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights" of citizens."
Source: NRC Handelsblad, 8 April 2014.