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Privacy First sues Dutch State in The Hague court

Today, the appeal of Privacy First and 19 citizens against the Dutch state is due to be heard. Privacy First believes the new Passport Act violates the right to privacy. Despite criticism from the House of Representatives, the government recently decided to go ahead with the controversial law. Privacy First's case focuses mainly on the central storage of fingerprints. This civil lawsuit is unique.

On 2 February 2011, Privacy First Foundation and 21 co-claimants (citizens) were struck down by the court in The Hague declared inadmissible in our civil lawsuit against the Dutch State (Passport Litigation). A proposal by Minister Spies (Home Affairs) to revise the Passport Act was submitted to the House of Representatives on 17 October last submitted. In this bill, however, the original provision (Art. 4b) on a central database remains largely intact. Under this provision, the biometric data of all Dutch citizens will still be used for investigation and prosecution, intelligence, terrorism and disaster relief purposes. This constitutes a flagrant violation of (among other things) European privacy laws. Attempts by individual citizens to challenge this through administrative law have so far been proved fruitless, as the administrative court did not want to review the provision in question. However, the Council of State recently asked some preliminary questions on the European Passport Regulation stated to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Pending the answer, all administrative proceedings are on hold for at least a year and a half, and concerned citizens have to fend for themselves without a valid identity document. Reason for Privacy First to once again in the public interest hoist the civil sails and continue our Passport trial on appeal.

To this end, we have filed our Memorandum of Grievances with the Court of Appeal of The Hague today. In this Memorandum, Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm and Vita Zwaan (SOLV Lawyers. Update 1 August 2013: Bureau Brandeis) explain why Privacy First et al. should still be declared admissible. Subsequently, the civil court will still be able to fully test the Passport Act against higher law, including European privacy legislation. Our full Memorandum of Reply can be found at HEREpdf download. The Hague Court is expected to issue a ruling before the summer.

Privacy First hereby does a urgent call to all Dutch people to do their bit to help fund this process. This can be done by a donation to account number t.n.v. Stichting Privacy First in Amsterdam o.g. "donation Passport Process". Thank you for your support!

Update 28 March 2013:
this week, the State filed its Memorandum of replypdfin the Hague Court of Appeal. A ruling by the court on admissibility will hopefully follow before the summer.

Update 19 April 2013: This week the written questions from the House of Representatives dated 5 December 2012 to the bill to revise the Passport Act answered; click HERE. To the VVD Group's question "about the status of the possible introduction of a central travel document administration", Minister Plasterk (Home Affairs) replied on p. 12 as follows: "As to whether the [central] online consultable travel document administration (ORRA) will actually be realised, and if so in what form, [official] decision-making has yet to take place. This will not happen without your Chamber being aware of it." In line with this, the Labour Party's question "whether [the entire Article 4b] would not be better deleted" remains unanswered for now (see p. 15). Privacy First et al's interest in the civil Passport process thus remains undiminished.

Update 26 May 2013: The provisional date of judgment (ruling) of the Court of Appeal of The Hague is Tuesday 29 October 2013.

Update 29 October 2013: the Hague Court of Appeal today postponed the ruling until Tuesday 7 January 2014.

Update 7 January 2014: the Hague Court of Appeal has again postponed the ruling today. New date: Tuesday, 18 February next.