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Bart Schermer about attack on citizens' right to demonstrate

Media outlets Investico, de Groene Amsterdammer and Trouw reported on the wide-scale collection by the Dutch police of personal data of demonstrators and their family members. Bart Schermer, Professor of Privacy and Cybercrime, commented on the issue.


On 10 March 2023, one day before demonstrators from the groups Extinction Rebellion, Farmers Defence Force and Samen voor Nederland came to The Hague to demonstrateinvestigative journalists reported that ‘police authorities are constantly requesting personal data of demonstrators and activists, but also of their parents’. The police has been doing this ‘even though [these people] have never been arrested or convicted’. Schermer: ‘the right to demonstrate is under attack here. If you are constantly being monitored, you cannot demonstrate freely.'

Access to data traffic

The issue came to light as a result of citizens being able to access ‘data traffic between the police’ and ‘the Personal Records Database (BRP), a database containing information about all residents in the Netherlands’. Dutch newspaper Trouw says that since last year, citizens have access to that data.

In addition, four demonstrators were listed in a security system where – in a nutshell – people are registered who are ‘suspected of involvement in serious crime, domestic violence, or radicalisation’. Schermer: the names of ‘peaceful demonstrators expressing their views should never be entered in such systems’.

The NOS referred to Schermer's comments in its coverage on the issue.

More attention

The media outlets involved say that 'in the coming weeks more publications will follow' on the right to demonstrate in the Netherlands.

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