Senate approves law that allows police to store license plates for four weeks

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The Senate has approved a bill from 2013 that gives the police the power to record license plates and store them in a vehicle register for a maximum period of four weeks.

In the Senate, the groups of VVD, CDA, PVV, PvdA, ChristenUnie, SGP, 50PLUS and OSF voted in favor of the bill. The votes against were the members of D66, SP, GroenLinks and the Party for the Animals. In 2013, Ivo Opstelten, the then Minister of Security and Justice, submitted the proposal. Two years later, the bill won a majority in the House of Representatives. The law can enter into force with the approval of the Senate.

The bill adds a provision to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which gives the police the power to record and store vehicle data such as the registration number, location, time and photo of the vehicle in a vehicle registration register. This data may be used within four weeks to investigate a specific crime and to arrest fugitives. After this retention period of four weeks, the data must be automatically destroyed, whereby there will probably be additional human control over this destruction of the data.

During the debate on the bill, those who voted against were particularly critical because it was an untargeted form of data collection. This could also jeopardize privacy. Senator Wezel of the SP filed a motion to exclude that license plate data can be provided to third parties. This motion will be voted on at a later date. According to Minister Grapperhaus of Justice and Security, this point of concern has already been incorporated in the bill.

D66 senator Bredenoord was especially critical of the privacy aspect. For example, he asked whether the principles of data protection are sufficiently respected and how it can be assessed and checked where cameras will be placed in the road network. The cameras that photograph the license plates can map aspects of a person’s personal life by also revealing the location once a photo is taken.

Senator Vlietstra of the PvdA believes that this law is necessary, because in practice the license plate data is already stored without there being a legal basis for it. The CDA is also in favor of the bill and believes that sufficient guarantees have been included in the law with regard to any privacy objections. PVV senator Dercksen finds the law important in the fight against serious crime and terrorism. According to him, the scheme does not go far enough; he considers the retention period of four weeks too short and believes that there is still no provision in the law to enable a rapid exchange of data with neighboring countries, for example.

The cameras used for vehicle registration are anpr cameras. Under current legislation, the police are not allowed to keep and consult all license plates collected via anpr, because this would be in violation of the Personal Data Protection Act and the Police Data Act. Only a hit against a database file may be saved.

The law will be put into effect for three years. An evaluation will take place in the interim and at the end and the government will determine whether the measure should be in force longer.

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