News from the Netherlands

November 10, 2023

We have been publishing interesting news from the Dutch security market since November 2023. The latest news is always ‘on the top’. Just scroll down for news from previous weeks.

10.11.2023: Schiphol postpones test with digital ID card

Schiphol Airport was due to start a pilot test today with a technology that will put an end to endless queues at passport control. However, the Data Protection Authority is not yet convinced of the security of the procedure and has therefore instructed Schiphol to postpone the start of the pilot project.

Travellers who wish to take part in the pilot project can submit their data relevant to data protection, such as face scan, signature and BSN number, via a specially developed app. This way, passport control starts at home and there is no need to wait at Schiphol Airport. The new technology is intended for travellers who want to fly to countries outside the Schengen area. During the pilot project, it can only be used if you have a Dutch, Belgian or Canadian passport and are flying with KLM from Canada to the Netherlands. The passport details and boarding pass will then be sent by telephone.

General introduction

Travellers with a risk assessment cannot use the new technology. Other travellers only need to have their face and phone scanned at the airport to gain access to the aircraft. If the pilot project is successful, the technology will be rolled out across the board from 2025. Travellers will then have to use the “digital ID card”. This is already the case in the USA and the Middle East. Travellers from 63 countries are checked by a European system in which their finger or face is scanned when they leave the country. However, critics warn that the biometric data, which is stored in a central database, could fall into the wrong hands. Criminals could then misuse it for identity theft. There have already been several cases in which airlines have been affected by a data leak. There are also fears that facial recognition may not work properly and people could be harassed or mistaken for another person, e.g. a terrorist.

Protection of privacy

The Data Protection Authority is of the opinion that citizens or passengers must be able to trust that the processing of biometric data is carried out with great care and that their privacy is well protected. According to the data protection officer, the processing of fingerprints or facial recognition is only permitted under strict conditions. “That is why we are paying particular attention to this type of data processing, as it is taking place in the pilot project,” said a spokesperson.

In general, the risks are not too high, according to biometrics experts. The systems do not store images, but codes that are used to check whether the biometric features match. These codes cannot be traced back to the original images of finger patterns, eye irises or faces. So anyone who manages to extract the codes can’t do much with them.

09.11.2023: WODC to become a data-driven organisation

The Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) is changing its name to the Scientific Research and Data Centre. This is intended to emphasise the growing importance of data-driven work. The name change was announced on the occasion of the 50th anniversary conference of the institute.

On Wednesday, the WODC presented two important decisions at the 50th anniversary conference that will further strengthen the strategic course it has been pursuing since 2019. From 2024, the WODC aims to have an even greater impact for the benefit of society. By contributing even more clearly to the preservation and improvement of the rule of law, in which every citizen is free and the rights and freedoms of all are protected equally and at all times. In addition, the importance of data-based work has increased enormously in recent years, to the detriment of the library function. For this reason, the word “Documentation” has been removed from the name and replaced by: Scientific Research and Data Centre. The broader focus is reflected in the addition “Knowledge Institute for the Rule of Law”.

In 2023, the WODC will be 50 years old. This means 50 years of scientific research in the field of justice and security and thus indispensable knowledge for the development, review and implementation of policy. In all these years, the knowledge institute has been an important source of information for policy makers and especially for academia, both nationally and internationally.

Separation from the Ministry

Following the affair surrounding the collaboration between the WODC and the Ministry of Justice and Security (JenV), the WODC was reorganised in 2019. The WODC moved further away from the Ministry and worked on developing strategic research programmes and strengthening human resources, data management and communication. The 2022 visit showed that this course is bearing fruit. The institute is in a solid position and continues to enjoy an excellent reputation at home and abroad in the field of scientific knowledge on justice and security.

For the future, the review committee recommended that the Institute should present itself even more clearly as an independent institute and adopt a more open attitude, both in terms of knowledge sharing and cooperation with other parties such as colleges/universities and government knowledge institutes.

Reaching a wider audience

During the conference, in addition to the special edition of Justitiële verkenningen on 50 years of WODC research, a volume by ‘knowledge activist’ Jaap de Waard on the ‘landing’ of knowledge in the field of crime and criminal justice was also distributed. Where do we stand on this issue and how can the use of knowledge be promoted? Are we really utilising knowledge in policy making and in practice? And what does the future hold? The volume contains a selection of “knowledge pearls” in the field of crime and law enforcement published between February 2020 and August 2023.

09.11.2023: Customs also make good use of drones

Sometimes it is easier to monitor from the air than from the ground. Customs often use drones for this purpose: small aircraft that film from the air. But working with a drone is not easy. That’s why customs will be training drone pilots from 2020.

Filming with a drone is not only suitable for general surveillance. It is also a safe method of observing a suspicious situation. The customs officers on site are then better prepared for the risks of an operation. The drone teams often work together with other customs teams. For example with the diving team.

Locations and tasks
Customs has trained a total of around 60 employees to work with drones. They work in various regional offices. This means that a drone team can be quickly on site almost anywhere in the country and in almost any situation. For example, when customs are looking for drugs or suspicious persons in a harbour.

There are different roles in a drone team, for example a pilot, a cameraman and an observer. The pilot controls the drone, the cameraman films with the drone and the observer ensures that the drone can fly safely. For example, there must not be too many birds, aeroplanes, helicopters, wind turbines or tall buildings in the vicinity. Customs trains drone pilots, camera operators and observers.

Mode of operation
A drone team prepares well before a mission. For example, it determines where, how far and how high the drone should fly, assesses the risks during the flight, obtains authorisation for the flight at the intended location and checks the drone and other equipment. During the flight, the team transmits what they see with the drone camera live to their colleagues at customs.

Customs is authorised to use drones almost anywhere, but must always comply with the laws and regulations. That is why a drone team also checks the regulations at the location of the planned operation. The team then draws up a report.

New members of the drone team receive special training and an aeromedical examination. This is because working with a drone is subject to special requirements. Anyone who wants to fly a drone must be “fit to fly”. This means, for example, that they have not consumed alcohol the day before the mission.

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