Attorney General: Tax authorities not authorized to collect license plates

Advocate General Niessen informed the Supreme Court in a statement that he is of the opinion that the Tax and Customs Administration is not authorized to record and collect registration numbers. This is done using Automatic Number Plate Recognition, or anpr.

The central question in the lawsuit is whether the Tax and Customs Administration may use the police’s anpr system, Niessen writes in his conclusion. According to the complainant, this violates the right to privacy. The Advocate General agrees and argues that the systematic recording of license plates does indeed constitute an infringement of the privacy of road users.

Such an infringement can then only be justified by a statutory regulation. The Tax and Customs Administration bases the authority to collect registration numbers on an article from the AWR. According to Niessen, however, the relevant article only grants the authority to ‘impose an attack on the basis of available data’. The Advocate General continues: “There is nothing to show that the Inspector can derive (systematic) control powers from this provision.” This could not be deduced from other articles of the law either.

Niessen adds that if such a power could nevertheless be derived from the law, it has been formulated so unclearly and without guarantees that there would be no statutory regulation. The case was brought by an employee who had a company car and had signed a ‘no private use statement’. However, his trip administration turned out to be incorrect. The Tax and Customs Administration was able to deduce this from license plate photos showing that he was in places that did not appear in the administration.

The advice of the Advocate General is not binding, but it provides important support for the final judgment of the Supreme Court. The tax authorities have been storing photos in this way since 2014.

Anpr cameras on a highway near Zwolle. Photo: Google Street View via Rejo Zenger (Bits of Freedom)