Dutch IRS uses the Dutch police’s (nearly) nation-wide ANPR camera network for state tax collection

UPDATE 2017-02-24: NRC Handelsblad reports that the Dutch supreme court (“Hoge Raad”) granted an appeal seeking that the Dutch IRS can, for privacy reasons not further explained in the news report, can not use the nation-wide ANPR camera network for the purposes of checking whether or drivers of leased company vehicles drive more than 500km per year privately (conceivably, that mass processing of nation-wide ANPR data is claimed to be disproportionate for that purpose). Persons who drive more than 500km per year for private reasons in a leased company care (effectively) have to pay more tax. The final ruling by the supreme court is expected later this year.

UPDATE 2014-10-22 #2: build your own vehicle license plate recognition using the DTK ANPR SDK v2.0 (kudos to unnamed person for the tip).

UPDATE 2014-10-22: similar news was covered several weeks ago in length by Maurits Martijn (De Correspondent). His reports have the attention of national politics. In 2013, Wilmer Heck (NRC Handelsblad) first reported on the existence of a covenant (.pdf, in Dutch) between police and IRS on the use of ANPR, a cooperation that turned out to exist since (at least?) 2011. Also see this document (.pdf, in Dutch).

Yesterday, Dutch news site GeenStijl reported (in Dutch) on information (.pdf, in Dutch) obtained through a FOIA request revealing that the Dutch police allows the Dutch IRS to use all Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera footage and data that is “fiscally relevant” to collection of state taxes. ANPR cameras are installed throughout the Netherlands: it essentially is a (nearly) nation-wide network of traffic cameras. The camera footage will be used to enforce, among others, the following Dutch tax laws:

Since journalist Wilmer Heck’s report in 2013 it is known that the IRS uses ANPR data since at least 2011. But up until last month, that “only” involved the 200ish camera’s on main traffic axes. This cooperation is now extended so that the IRS may use data collected through all ANPR camera’s. Here’s a translation of the report on GeenStijl (note: I rephrased bits to make it more clear for people not familiar with Dutch media & politics):

IRS will be fully watching ANPR camera footage

At the end of September, the Dutch Minister of Security & Justice, Ivo Opstelten, wrote that it is “technically and administratively feasible” to use the Dutch police’s ANPR cameras “more extensively” [in Dutch]. The letter was written in a way that suggests that expansion still had to take place. This was another creative view on the Hague reality of the senile old bastard: the month before, a covenant had already been signed between the police and the IRS. That covenant states that the IRS can “co-use” the “ANPR cameras that are in use by the police atmain thoroughfares“, but also that the IRS can extend this co-use to “other ANPR cameras that belong to the police’s ANPR network”. So, ALL of them. It’s very friendly of the police to allow the IRS to browse through number plate data of all Dutch citizens. Especially taking into account that the police really cannot store & retain the data, according the a law they have been violating for years [in Dutch]. And as opposed to car drivers who exceeded the speed limit by three kilometers per hour, the IRS does not even have to pay administrative costs to the police for using their stasi-cams. More friendly collegiality, that enables the government to more easily see behind the car doors of the unwitting driver. We asked the police and IRS for the implications regarding privacy. Their response, singing all together: “Privacy? Hahaha LOL!” Duly noted. (h/t)

The police and IRS are also legally allowed to carry out tasks on behalf of the Dutch intelligence & security services, such as the General Intelligence & Security Service (AIVD). If one can think of a plausible use of ANPR data to intelligence services, it can be safely assumed they use it as well (note: no specific evidence for that is known to me).


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