Privacy-Related Crimes in Dutch Law
TILT Law & Technology Working Paper Series, Version 1.0, January 2017
31 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017
Date Written: January 16, 2017
Since criminal law is usually considered a last resort for regulators, it provides a particularly focused lens through which to study privacy protection: privacy crimes are the most poignant forms of privacy infringements. This paper provides an overview of how privacy is protected through substantive criminal law in the Netherlands. As part of a large-scale project on privacy protection in the 21st century, together with similar country studies, it will facilitate comparative legal analysis of privacy crimes (a relatively under-researched field), and also help to better understand privacy, as the forms and scope of privacy protection in criminal law tell us something about how privacy is conceptualised in law, and what legislators consider particularly protection-worthy in privacy.
This paper offers a descriptive, bird’s-eye overview of offences relating to spatial, personal, relational, and informational privacy. After an introduction into Dutch criminal law, I describe a broad range of offences against places, computers, body and mind, reputation, papers, secrets, and data. These provisions show that Dutch criminal law plays an important role in privacy protection, as the spaces in which people should be able to feel uninhibited are protected through the criminalisation of disturbances of such spaces. The state of peace in important personal spaces allows people to be free, to be able to act and think as they please, as an essential prerequisite for being human rather than a machine. Interestingly, with the wideranging hacking offence being supplemented by a broad criminalisation of unlawful copying and fencing of data, digital spaces now seem to be more broadly protected than physical spaces are, in having fewer additional requirements for criminal liability beyond the unlawfulness of intrusions.
Keywords: Privacy, Dutch Law, Criminal Law, Legal Good, Trespass, Hacking, Stalking, Interception, Visual Observation, Unlawful Data Copying
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation