Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ausweis Bitte! = 3300 Fines and Counting

Since January first of this year everyone in The Netherlands of 14 years and older has to be able to produce an ID if asked by the police. This measure has slipped into being with less protest than I expected. You here the occasional WWII related cynical jokes (Ausweis, bitte!), but not much more. After a month it has become clear that IDs are asked in more than the specific situations of (threatening) disorder and violence it was mostly intended for.

Bits Of Freedom reports (Dutch) that in January alone 3300 people were fined for not being able to produce an ID. The ID was introduced for serious circumstances, but the IDs are also asked when people ride through a red light on their bikes, for example, something of a local habit here in Amsterdam. This leads to a double punishment: for a traffic violation and the inability to show an ID (which comes with to a trip to the police station). And to a nice revenue stream, with 40 000 fines a year with the current trend.

Privacy International has blasted the Dutch mandatory identification introduced by the Minister of Justice Donner:
The legal arguments against the requirements are overwhelming. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) guarantees every individual the right to respect for his or her private life, subject only to narrow exceptions where government action is imperative. The Donner legislation would interfere with this right by establishing an identity requirement on citizens where no suspicion exists. This interference with the privacy rights of every resident and visitor cannot be justified under the limited exceptions envisaged by Article 8 because it is neither consistent with the rule of law nor necessary in a democratic society.
There are some initiatives critical of the ID scheme, like an action called Tit for tat. It encourages civilians who are asked for their ID to ask the police officer for their ID in return. This prolongs the procedure, making it more annoying for the officer and gives a check on racially or politically induced ID request. Or so it is intended. The first teenagers have been thrown into jail for not having an ID. That's a real prolongment of the procedure, not to speak of annoying.

The possibility of having to pay a fine or doing some jail time has not moved me to carry an ID. I actually think most of my friends don't carry one. This might change with the word getting out that the police comes down hard on violators. But in the meantime I carry a 50 euros bank note in my wallet. I've always identified myself with money, anyway. (Come to think of it, I just spend it...)
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Site on the mandatory ID (Dutch)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Belgium. that's south of the Netherlands.
We always had ID cards. It's a *normal* thing.
Why the fuss ?

11/2/05 23:09  
Blogger Joe said...

Interesting that you would use the name CoCo. That was the name used by the Stasi's commercial front operation, one that they used to raise cash in and outside the DDR, specifically to maintain untraceable conduits to pay informants outside of the Communist Bloc.

23/8/10 21:40  

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