The Dutch privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) has fined the Rotterdam police force €50,000 for using cars equipped with cameras to monitor if people were keeping to the 1.5 metre social distancing rule, without first assessing the privacy implications.
The cameras took detailed photographs of people on the streets and stored them, but made far more photographs than strictly necessary, the AP said. The cameras operated even if the cars were driving of speeds up to 50 kph.
Rotterdam city council and the police used the cars, with 360 degree cameras, for a five week period between April and June in 2020. The cameras were highly accurate and recorded the faces of people at substantial distances.
‘In the Netherlands you want to be free to walk the streets without the government taking photos of you from cars,’ AP board member Katja Mur said. ‘If the government carries out surveillance using such advanced techniques, the risks have to be mapped out in advance, so they can be assessed carefully.’
The project was halted when the AP asked for more information, and the agency began its investigation following reports that the police had resumed using the cars.
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