Denounced Dutch spying law gets cabinet approval

Minister Ronald Plasterk plans to push ahead with the new law that will give the Dutch secret services more capacity for data mining and internet and phone tapping, despite criticism and complaints from privacy activists, human rights organizations and telecom companies.

The Minister told news wire ANP that the plan will go ahead, but he does not rule out that "some parts will be adjusted after all the comments". "We have to press, because we cannot allow the services to work with their hands tied behind their back", he said to the news wire.

Plasterk used the recent attack on the Thalys train as an example of the question on whether there is a good image of the threat level popping up. "The new law offers possibilities to do something about it."

The new law gives the Dutch military and general intelligence and security services, the MIVD and AIVD, the capability to collect and store, for example, all communication between the Netherlands and Iraq. This involves information on who called which numbers and who sent which emails to whom. The services can then analyze the data to identify emerging threats. If there is a threat, the data can then be viewed or listened to in detail. Each step has to be approved by the Minister.

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights thinks that this is going too far. According to the organization, the law is a massive invasion of privacy. “This means that the government can eavesdrop on all Dutch people,” they said last week.

Telecom companies also do not agree with the law. KPN called it a "far-reaching breach of the confidentiality of communications". According to Tele2, "it is clear that the services want access to all communications of everyone".

Minister Plasterk told ANP that there are many misunderstandings surrounding the law. "If the proposal was that the security services could henceforth listen to all Dutch residents telephone conversations, or simply sit and view all internet traffic, I would be dead against it."