Dutch parliament likely to vote in data mining law today

The AIVD building in Zoetermeer
The AIVD building in ZoetermeerPhoto: S.J. de Waard / Wikimedia Commons

The lower house of Dutch parliament is debating a new data mining law that will give the Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD the power to intercept data streams on large scales. The expectation is that the law will be voted in, as a majority in parliament already revealed support for the law, AD reports.

The new law gives the intelligence services the capability to intercept all forms of wire communication, including telephone, internet, email and social media. But data tapping must always have a necessary purpose and be in proportion to the threat, responsible Minister Ronald Plaster of Home Affairs said in previous discussions about the law.  

For example, the AIVD can't eavesdrop on an entire city, but may tap data from specific neighborhoods if they believe a suspect is there. 

The Dutch intelligence services are already allowed to perform targeted hacks on computers, for example those of terrorist suspects and the people around them. The new law gives them the capability to do more, for example intercept the emails of everyone on the same street as the suspect, or break into the suspect's brother's computer, according to AD. The services will also be able to remotely turn on webcams or microphones on computers in order to follow someone. They will also be able to break into a particular WiFi hotspot if there is reason to do so.

Before every "investigation project" the Minister needs to get permission from a review committee TIB. Who will be in the committee is not yet clear, except that it will be three people, two of whom were judges. The supervisory committee for the services, the CTIVD, will check afterwards whether the services acted correctly.

AIVD director Rob Bertholee denies that these new capabilities will turn the AIVD and MIVD into something like the United States' NSA. Plasterk emphasizes that the Dutch services need to have a reason and get permission before starting their data mining, while the NSA collects bulk data and then look at what they can do with it.