On 2 February this year, the district court of The Hague gave its judgement in the civil lawsuit on the Dutch Passport Act which had been initiated by the Privacy First Foundation and 21 co-plaintiffs (citizens) against the Dutch government on 6 May 2010. The main request in this case is that the new Passport Act is to be declared unlawful on account of violating human rights, in particular the right to privacy. However, to the astonishment of many, the court declared both Privacy First as well as the 21 co-plaintiffs inadmissible. Hence the court didn’t proceed to the stage of dealing with the merits of the legal questions regarding the new Passport Act.
A striking aspect about the judgement is, first of all, how short it is. Privacy First cannot help thinking that the court wanted to be done with this case quickly. The court motivated its judgement by declaring that Privacy First would not have an own interest in this case and that for the co-plaintiffs (citizens) a legal avenue to an administrative judge would be all that remains. However, as a matter of fact, Privacy First as a relevant foundation has every interest in this case. What’s more, citizens are not in a position to (directly) object to the storage of fingerprints for their new passport or ID-card. Making such individual objections is only possible through time-consuming and cumbersome proceedings.
Privacy First has decided to appeal against the court’s judgement. On the basis of an analysis by our attorneys of SOLV we deem the judgement to be perfectly contestable, especially with regard to the inadmissibility of Privacy First as well as our co-plaintiffs. (This analysis is being shared by other legal experts.) The appeal will take place before the Court of Appeal in The Hague. Once the earlier judgement on inadmissibility has been overturned, the merits of the case can be dealt with there.
The press release by Privacy First announcing its appeal can be read HERE (Dutch pdf).
Update 17 February 2011: See also this article on Webwereld (in Dutch).