Watchdog: New law lets gov't spy on "all Dutch people"

The power given to Dutch intelligence agencies to spy on the people of the Netherlands is dangerously imbalanced, The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights stated on Tuesday. The watchdog commented on the proposed new Intelligence and Security Law currently making its way through Dutch parliament.

In its current form, the law would make it possible for Dutch security services to intercept massive amounts of telecommunications, and to controversially utilize data mining, the group cautioned.

“This means that the government can eavesdrop on all Dutch people,” the institute said. A massive “privacy violation,” they added.

“The bill makes it possible to intercept large quantities of information from an unlimited number of people who will never suspect it.”

The organization said that the law means the Security and Justice Minister on his own decides who may, and who may not be spied upon, and such spying would not require the approval of a judge, or other judicial body independent of the Dutch cabinet.

The only independent body involved in the process, CTIVD, serves only to assess if the two security services, AIVD and DISS, have adhered to the law in their actions. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights also lashed out at the law for failing to include provisions that give the CTIVD more power, in particular the right to veto the Security and Justice Minister’s decision.

The group went on to criticize that the lack of human rights safeguards in the law to protect against privacy rights, citing past abuse of similar laws by governments and investigative bodies worldwide.

“This bill does not create public confidence in the actions of security agencies, instead strengthening the mistrust that already exists.”