Dutch, not NSA collected phone data
It was the Netherlands which collected the data on 1.8 million local phone calls that is in the possession of the United States’ National Security Authority (NSA).
Ministers Ronald Plasterk (Home Affairs) and Jeanine Hennis (Defense) informed the Second Chamber today that the “metadata” had been collected over the span of one month by the Dutch National Sigint Organization (NSO) and then transferred to the NSA. Plasterk said that the NSO, which is part of the Dutch intelligence services, had collected the information in light of terrorism enforcement and military operations abroad. Among the collected data are the phone numbers that were connected in calls, the length and time of the calls; the contents of the calls were reportedly not collected. “The data was justifiably shared with the US in light of the international cooperation against terrorism,” Plasterk wrote today. His new revelation has placed him in a hot seat, as he previously had said that Americans collected the data themselves. After German newspaper Der Spiegel had reported in August last year that the NSA possessed the metadata, the Minister actually claimed he did not know how they came to it and condemned the collection of foreign metadata by the NSA. Several parties have reacted with shock to his latest disclosure. Second Chamber member Ronald van Raak (SP) said he questioned Plasterk’s position, because the Minister’s letter to the Chamber “creates distrust.” D66 chamber member Gerard Schouw found the quantity of phonecalls of which data had been collected ‘disproportional’. “How many terrorists does the Minister thinks are walking around in the Netherlands,” Schouw asked. A spokesman for Plasterk has since taken to his defense, arguing that the Minister was not contradicting himself now never said with certainty last year that it had been the NSA that had collected the Dutch phone data. He said it took research to find out that it had been the NSO.