Gov't monitored journalist Brenno de Winter

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Last month, several ministries and the police were warned about journalist Brenno de Winter who was suspected of wanting to infiltrate government computer systems via malware and phishing, the NOS reports. De Winter's personal details, like his home address, were spread around to civil servants. Police departments were also anticipating a physical break-in.

De Winter, an investigative journalist who is especially interested in privacy violations and computer security, says that he was warned a week and a half ago from within "government circles" that he was being monitored. Brenno de Winter discovered this himself when he went to the ministry of Finance for a lunch appointment last Friday. He heard from reception that there was a special protocol for him. He was only allowed to have his lunch under surveillance of a security official. De Winter says that the accusations come from the police in Rotterdam, who sent a message to the ministry of Defense and the ministry of Internal Affairs. According to the journalist, thousands of civil servants were warned about him. The warnings mainly gave tips to prevent de Winter from accessing confidential information. Agents received the tip to keep shutters closed at the police department, so that computer screens weren't visible. There was also a request not to access operational information via public wifi. The government has since apologized to de Winter. A new mail has also been sent to the civil servants concerned urging them to erase all information such as the home address and the date of birth of de Winter. The mail also states that an unfair impression was made that de Winter was planning to infiltrate the ICT-system.