Tech & Rights

Privacy First Challenges Dutch License Plate Parking Scheme

In the Netherlands, we want to be able to park anonymously. We do not want registration of our license plate numbers and be forced to pay with our bank card.

by Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten

Anonymous parking with cash

At the beginning of this year, the highest court in the Netherlands decided that the Dutch tax services had illegally collected location data of car drivers in the Netherlands for several years.

The tax services did this with a large network of ANPR cameras, which register license plates, along Dutch highways.

According to the court, there was no legal basis for this. That is why this practice of the tax services was a massive violation of people's privacy.

The Dutch tax services illegally collected location data of car drivers in the Netherlands for years using a large network of cameras along Dutch highways. (Image: Timon91)

On a local level, the driving behavior of motorists has been illegally collected for years: by means of license plate parking, whereby drivers are forced to give their plate number in order to park legally, the municipalities' tax services have a complete overview of who parks where and when.

But there is also no specific legal basis for this, as demanded by both the Dutch Constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy).

Furthermore, for obligatory scheme of license plate parking has no societal necessity. License plate parking does not allow for the possibility to pay cash or in any other way anonymously. Therefore, license plate parking amounts to multiple violations of people's privacy.

Registering plate not obligatory

At the beginning of 2015, Privacy First won its first lawsuit against license plate parking: since then, motorists are no longer obliged to enter their license plate number when they park.

Before Privacy First's court action, motorists were required to enter vehicle registration data in parking machines in Amsterdam, or else face a fine. (Image: Frank Stjerne)

At the beginning of 2016, this judgement was confirmed by the High Council. However, anyone who does not enter a license plate number will receive a fine that will only be voided if the receiver objects (with a proof of payment).

"This way, you are still punished as a law-abiding citizen if you want to park anonymously. It is Kafkaesque," Privacy First chairperson Bas Filippini says.
"The High Council is clear: obligatory registration of license plates is illegal. License plate parking needs to be abolished," says lawyer Benito Boer.

To this end, Privacy First recently submitted a short procedure to make anonymous parking possible without submitting a license plate number and with an anonymous payment method.

The court in Amsterdam declared this case inadmissible, because of the presumed complexity. Therefore the court suggested a substantive procedures, which took place on Thursday, June 29, in Amsterdam, which explored but did not conclude whether license plate parking and a lack of anonymous payment methods is legal.