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Privacy First summary proceedings against ANPR mass surveillance

Standing policy of Privacy First Foundation is to challenge massive privacy violations in court and have them declared unlawful.

A current and pressing issue that lends itself ideally to such a lawsuit concerns the Dutch legislation on automatic number plate recognition (Automatic number plate recognition, ANPR) as it applies since 2019 under Art 126jj Sv.

Lawsuit against massive privacy violation by ANPR camera surveillance

Under this legislation, the license plates of millions of cars in the Netherlands (i.e. everyone's travel movements) are continuously stored for four weeks in a central police database for, among other things, investigation and prosecution, regardless of whether one is suspected of anything. This is totally unnecessary, utterly disproportionate and also ineffective, as today's report, among others, showed evaluation reports from the WODC. Monitoring is lacking and the system can be easily abused, so confirmed investigation by NRC Handelsblad recently. Privacy First has therefore prepared a lawsuit to have the ANPR legislation set aside for violation of European privacy law. To this end, Privacy First's summary proceedings against the State will take place at the District Court of The Hague on 10 November. Via Pro Bono Connect has Privacy First the law firm CMS engaged to conduct this case for us. Our summons in summary proceedings can be found HERE (pdf). If necessary, wider proceedings on the merits will also follow these summary proceedings. After all, the current ANPR law constitutes a massive privacy violation and simply has no place in a free democratic constitutional state. Given the European case law on the matter, Privacy First considers the chances of a successful court case to be extremely high.

Case data: Stichting Privacy First vs. the State (Ministry of Justice and Security), Wednesday 10 November 2021 11.00am, District Court of The Hague. Case number: C/09/617630 KG ZA 21-853. You are welcome to attend the court hearing (subject to room capacity). A route description can be found at here.

Update 7 November 2021:

due to tightened corona measures, a mouth mask and advance registration for visitors to the court are unfortunately required again. Click HERE for further information and the registration form if you wish to attend the court hearing.

Update 8 November 2021:

the court unfortunately appears willing to allow only two (already registered) visitors at the court hearing. However, due to high public interest, a livestream.

Update 10 November 2021:

Today the court hearing took place; click here for the pleading note from our lawyer (pdf). The court's ruling is scheduled for Wednesday 1 December next.

Update 1 December 2021:

Today, the court in The Hague judgment. In the judgment the court first establishes that Privacy First is admissible in this case as an idealistic interest group to safeguard the privacy of all citizens in the Netherlands. This again establishes that Privacy First can bring this and subsequent lawsuits in the public interest. Next, however, the court ruled that there would be no sufficiently urgent interest in these summary proceedings. Privacy First considers this ruling incomprehensible, as a daily massive privacy violation by definition involves an urgent interest to have that violation judicially reviewed and stopped. Privacy First will now soon start proceedings on the merits against the ANPR legislation and is also considering filing an urgent appeal against the current judgment with the Court of Appeal of The Hague. Given the relevant European case law, Privacy First still considers the chances of a successful court case to be extremely high.

The ANPR legislation at issue in Privacy First's lawsuit looks at the mass collection and storage of everyone's "historical" ANPR data, also known as "no hits". This should be distinguished from the long-standing police practice where licence plates of suspicious persons (so-called "hits") can be used for detection. Media confusion regularly arises about this in response to misleading government information, for example on the websites of the National Police and the Public prosecutor's office. Privacy First deplores such deception and hopes media will not be misled by it.

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