Dutch Senate votes to grant intel agencies new surveillance powers

Privacy groups concerned by data-slurping 'tapping' law

By John Leyden


Plans by the Dutch government to increase surveillance powers are likely to face opposition from privacy activists.

A revamp of the country's laws (in Dutch) was passed by the Senate on Wednesday, clearing the final legislative hurdle after years of debate and protest, Reuters reports.

The new Intelligence and Security Act gives police the ability to go after the relatives of suspected terrorists or other serious criminals instead of only specified individuals. The Act also grants Dutch intelligence agencies new surveillance powers such as data retention for three years by service providers and permission for intel agencies to share intelligence with their foreign counterparts (GCHQ, NSA, and so on).

Lawmakers argue the Act is necessary to combat increased terrorism and cyber threats. The authority of the Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD) has been enhanced, giving it the role as a complaints body.

Interior minister Ronald Plasterk said (according to Google Translate): "Protecting national security and contributing to the international legal order, including, for example, protection against terrorism, the protection of high-tech business and government against cyber attacks, requires modernisation of the law."

Security experts remain unconvinced, at best.

"It increases the intel agency's ability to wiretap, to hack and to work with organisations to volunteer them information," said Martijn Grooten, a security researcher and editor of industry journal Virus Bulletin. "Wiretapping can now be less targeted (think dragnet), hacking could also target close relations of targets. Voluntary informers could also be companies rather than individuals (e.g. ISPs giving easy access to data)."

The proposed increase in surveillance powers is counterbalanced by promises of better oversight. But these are unlikely to placate critics, such as online rights group Bits of Freedom.

"Some privacy organisations are against it and will take action" through lawsuits or other protests, according to Eddy Willems, a security evangelist at infosec firm G DATA.

Local reports (in Dutch) by rtlnieuws and national broadcaster NOS provide more information and background about the surveillance law changes. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Cisco sneaks hardcoded secret root backdoor into vid surveillance kit

Who watches the watchers? Anybody who has the login

Microsoft Germany emerging from behind Deutsche Telekom cloud

Frankfurt, Berlin regions to launch end of 2019, T-Systems 'trustee' deal to be retired

Who watches Sony's watcher? Boffins poke holes in surveillance kit

Command injection and stack buffer overflow flaws bedevil cam range

Germany slaps ban on kids' smartwatches for being 'secret spyware'

Hands up, whose parents are listening in on this class?

Smash up your kid's Bluetooth-connected Cayla 'surveillance' doll, Germany urges parents

Or switch it off, bin it, bury it, whatever's necessary

World's largest internet exchange sues Germany over mass surveillance

DE-CIX questions legality of government tapping its system

Activists raise alarm over insidious creep of surveillance in the UK

Report calls for government data 'firewall', spy-free schools, up-to-date laws

Volkswagen faces fresh Dieselgate lawsuit in Germany – report

Angry investors want to know why they weren't told before everyone else

Fan of FBI cosplay? Enjoy freaking out your neighbors? Have we got the eBay auction for you

Get this retired surveillance van for all your totally legitimate above-board activities

Drone 'swarm' buzzed off FBI surveillance bods, says tech bloke

UAV arms race with drug lords is upon us