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Privacy First calls for moratorium on illegal operations with police drones

This week, the answering parliamentary questions On the covert deployment of drones by the Dutch police that a specific legal basis for this is lacking. Minister Opstelten bases the current deployment of drones for detection on the general police task in Article 3 of the Police Act. However, this vague, summary article was never written for this purpose. In contrast, Article 8(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) requires that any government invasion of privacy explicit, sufficiently accessible and foreseeable, with safeguards against abuse (including privacy violation and function creep) is laid down in national legislation. A specific legal basis for the deployment of drones does not exist, however, let alone that such a legal basis would be sufficiently accessible, foreseeable and covered by privacy safeguards for Dutch citizens. The invasion of privacy by the current deployment of drones thus constitutes a violation of Article 8 ECHR and is therefore unlawful.

Without a specific legal basis in accordance with Article 8(2) ECHR, any policedrone an unsound means of detection that should not be deployed. Such deployment should therefore be stopped immediately. In individual criminal cases, it is up to the judge to consider information obtained with policedrones has been gathered as unlawful evidence outside the criminal trial.

Privacy First hereby urges the House of Representatives to impose a moratorium on the further deployment of drones institute. Such a moratorium can be lifted only after a broad democratic debate has taken place and any deployment of drones will be properly regulated. In case of political tolerance of the current situation, Privacy First reserves the right to enforce such a moratorium in court.