The police are increasingly using unmanned aircraft in their efforts to track down criminals in the Netherlands, leading to MPs’ questions about the privacy implications.
Drones – small helicopters equipped with cameras – are used to trace burglars and getaway cars as well as illegal marijuana plantations. For example, Harlingen borrowed two drones from the defence ministry last year after a spate of burglaries in the Frisian town.
Since 2009, drones have been used in at least 40 areas, the AD reported on Monday. In total, they were in the air on at least 132 different days.
D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw has asked the justice ministry to explain the implications of the use of drones on privacy.
‘I understand they can be useful, but they need to have a basis in law,’ he is quoted as saying by RTL news. ‘How closely can innocent citizens be filmed. No-one has a clue what they are filming.’
Lawyer Vincent Böhre from the Privacy First foundation said the use of drones is illegal because the flights are not made public.
‘It is a form of camera supervision which is not allowed under Dutch law,’ he told the broadcaster. The use of drones also infringes European privacy laws, he said.
Amsterdam city council said earlier this year it had grounded its two €29,000 drones because of continuing technical problems.