Enough signatures collected for referendum on new Dutch Big Data law

A petition for a referendum on a new law that gives the Dutch intelligence services massive data mining capabilities, collected over 300 thousand signatures - the number necessary for an advisory referendum to be arranged. The Electoral Council must still check the validity of the signatures. Should they all prove valid, the referendum will be arranged during the municipal elections in March next year, NU.nl reports. 

After the first phase - 10 thousand signatures - the Electoral Council declared around 10 percent of the signatures invalid. The petition was launched by a group of Amsterdam students. 

The new Law for the intelligence and security services gives the AIVD and MIVD the capability to collect, store and search large amounts of internet traffic, for example while searching for terrorists. To do so, they first need permission from the responsible Minister and a specially established committee. 

This bill was controversial from its introduction. Civil rights organizations, the Council for the Judiciary, the Dutch Association for Journalists, the scientific council for government policy WRR and the Council of State all criticized the data mining law. Despite this, it passed relatively easily through the Tweede Kamer and Eerste Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament and the Dutch Senate.

In an advisory referendum, the Dutch population can vote for or against a new law. The government can choose to ignore the outcome, however.