Smart billboards are monitoring train passengers in Amsterdam

smart billboards

Dutch railway company NS has allowed advertisers to monitor the way travellers pay attention to billboards. A pilot fase by media company Exterion has been running for months now on train- and busstations. For instance, Amsterdam Central Station already has 35 smart billboards are fitted with camera’s registering how many people are looking at the boards and how long. Across the country, hundreds of billboards are now being tested.

DutchNews.nl mentions that, according to spokesperson Sandra Loos of privacy watchdog ‘Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens’, the use of the cameras may well be illegal. ‘Cameras in public spaces are generally not allowed to be used for advertising purposes,’ she says. ‘We can’t say more than that because we are still looking into it. But we are talking to NS and if there is a serious breach of privacy we will take measures.’

Camera’s or sensors?

The question is if the images are anonymized. A spokesperson of Exterion says the rather speak of sensors rather than camera’s, as the camera’s do not recognize faces, or register emotions. Therefore, according to Exterion, privacy is guaranteed. But not everybody agrees with that. Civil rights organisation Bits of Freedom have objected to the boards. ‘This is a public space and NS is allowing its passengers to be spied on,’ Bits of Freedom spokesperson Ton Siedsma says. ‘It’s impossible to avoid the cameras.’

*) Featured image: waylonscott (cc)

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