Netherlands Audio and Video Recording Laws

Can You Record Conversations in the Netherlands?

According to the Criminal Code of the Netherlands, you are legally allowed to record conversations that you take part in or instruct someone else to record a conversation that you are a part of.

Section 139a of the Criminal Code states that it is illegal to record or eavesdrop, using a technical device, a conversation taking place in a dwelling, premises or enclosed room, without being an active participant in the conversation and without receiving instructions to do so by a participant in that conversation.

Section 139b states that it is illegal to surreptitiously record or eavesdrop, using a technical device, conversations taking place anywhere else other than in a dwelling, premises or enclosed room without being a participant in the conversation or without receiving instructions to do so by a participant in the conversation.

Section 139a and 139b do not apply to the recording of:

  • Data that is processed or transferred by means of telecommunication or using a computerised device or system.
  • For the purpose of implementation of the Intelligence and Security Services Act 2002.

Note: In the case of 139a, you can record conversations taking place in a dwelling, premises or enclosed room, using a technical device, as long as the device is in place and is not concealed, on the consent of the individual who uses the dwelling, premises or enclosed room, except in cases where obvious misuse is evident.

Can You Record Phone Calls in the Netherlands?

You are allowed to record phone calls that you take part in. From a criminal point of view and under civil law, you can record your own phone calls without informing the other party to the conversation.

You can record your calls to collect evidence of a criminal offence or potential harm such as a threat, however, the court will consider any such evidence at its discretion.

Recordings can be done for personal use such as to check what was said at a later date. However, problems may arise if you use such recordings for blackmailing, extortion, libel, etc.

According to section 139c, it is illegal to intentionally and unlawfully intercept or record, by means of a technical device, data not intended for you and is processed or transferred by means of telecommunication (phone calls) or using a computerised device or system.

Section 139c does not apply to interception or recording:

  • Of data received via a radio receiver, unless a special effort was made to obtain the data or a prohibited receiver was used to obtain the data.
  • By a person entitled to use the telecommunication connection or on the instructions of such a person, except in instances of obvious misuse.
  • Done for the purpose of good operation of the telecommunication network, in criminal proceedings or to implement the Intelligence and Security Services Act 2002.

Installation of Recording and Eavesdropping Devices

It is against the law, according to section 139d of the criminal code, to install a technical device in a particular place with the aim of illegally eavesdropping, intercepting or recording a conversation, telecommunications, or other data being transferred or processed in a computerised system.

It is also illegal to:

  • Manufacture, sell, obtain, import, distribute or make available a technical device designed to facilitate the violation of section 139d of the criminal code.
  • Sell, obtain, distribute or otherwise make available or be in possession of a computer password, access code or similar data that can facilitate access to a computerised device, in violation of section 139d of the criminal code.

Possessing and Disclosing Illegal Recordings and Devices

According to section 139e of the criminal code, it is illegal to:

  • Possess knowingly or with reasonable suspicion, a device that has been used as storage for data or recordings unlawfully obtained through eavesdropping or interception.
  • Avail a device such as the one mentioned above to another person.
  • Intentionally disclose to another person data that you have obtained illegally or data that you know or reasonably suspect was obtained illegally.

Can you Record Videos of Other People in the Netherlands?

Section 139f of the criminal code states that it is illegal to intentionally produce the image of a person when that person is in a home or a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy using a technical device that is not clearly visible and installed without notice.

Places with a reasonable expectation of privacy include dwellings, changing rooms, washrooms, and other areas not open or visible to the public.

It is also illegal to be in possession of an image knowingly or with reasonable suspicion that it has been obtained in violation of section 139f of the criminal code.

Section 139g of the criminal code makes it illegal to make public an image obtained illegally in violation of section 139f.

Recording Laws for Organizations in the Netherlands

Since the Netherlands is part of the European Union, the country has adopted the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations), a guideline established by the EU to control the collection and use of EU citizens’ data by companies that have access to such data, regardless of whether or not they operate within the EU.

This data includes phone calls, videos, employee information, etc.

The GDPR is known as the AVG in the Netherlands. Check out the laws outlined under the GDPR on this page.

Penalties

  • Violating section 139a of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Violating section 139b of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of the third category.
  • Violating section 139c of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Violating section 139d of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Violating section 139e of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Violating section 139f of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of the fourth category.
  • Violating section 139g of the criminal code is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of the fourth category.