NU.co.uk, 18 March 2013: 'Police increasingly deploy drones'
“Police are increasingly using unmanned aerial vehicles in secret.
The so-called drones are used to track burglars, follow criminals' getaway cars and detect cannabis plantations, among other things. The AD writes this on Monday.
Figures from the Ministries of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Interior and Security and Justice show that drones have flown out in at least 40 places, according to the newspaper. This happened on at least 132 different days since 2009. Moreover, the number of flights is said to be increasing.
Privacy First Foundation speaks of "illegal operations" because the flights are not publicised and people do not notice the silent planes with cameras.
D66 demands clarification. "The deployment must be legal and verifiable," MP Gerard Schouw told the newspaper. "Now we know nothing."
The politician has since asked questions about it to Minister Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice).
"They are sometimes deployed for very plausible reasons, but it is stealthily increasing. We don't know where, when or how many," Schouw said. It is also not known who exactly decides on the deployment and whether and how then the data is stored, complains the MP.
There must be very valid reasons if you are going to fly over people's backyards, thinks Schouw. These in themselves have little to fear if they only plant pansies there, but that is not the point. "Would you be OK with Opstelten reading all your text messages? Or had access to your patient data?"
Schouw submitted questions on the use of drones to Minister Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice).
Ahmed Marcouch of the PvdA would also like clarity on the deployment and purpose of the drones. Nor does he know how often and why they are deployed. However, it may well be that the deployment can be fitted into the existing rules, he says.
After all, there are also helicopters flying over high-risk areas and surely police cars go on surveillance, recognisable and unrecognisable. "But people should not feel they are being secretly spied on. It has to be well regulated and responsible."
The SP has long wanted clarity, said Sharon Gesthuizen. She is not totally against drones, as good detection capabilities in serious crime are important. "But this cannot be done without a clear mandate and should be used under conditions."
You should not have a drone over your head when there is too little going on, she believes, because that means an invasion of privacy. In the case of a surveillance vehicle, surely that is different. Gesthuizen thinks a debate on drones with Opstelten is in order.
The deployment of drones is a violation of privacy, according to warfare expert Leon Wecke of Radboud University.
"We are already stalked by cameras everywhere. And now also by drones while we are not aware of it," said Wecke.
"Fire brigades and police have them, probably also water boards and large companies. Maybe they are used for corporate espionage."
Drones are actually weapons of war, but the type used by the police are unarmed. These aircraft do take camera and thermal images. The drones have been deployed in Arnhem, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Almere, among other places."
Source: NU.co.uk (Novum), 18 March 2013.