Netherlands postpones Big Data law implementation

The Dutch government is postponing the implementation of the new data mining law for the intelligence and security services. Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations will send a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Wednesday to inform them that it will not be possible to appoint a supervisory committee before the law was set to take effect on January 1st, NOS reports.

The supervisory committee is one of the requirements for the law, officially called the Intelligence and Security Law. The law gives the Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD the capability to collect, store and analyze large amounts of internet data. The committee, which will consist of three former judges, will evaluate before hand whether there is enough reason for the services to do so. 

According to RTL Nieuws, the implementation of the law is postponed to May 1st, 2018.

On Wednesday the Electoral Council will also announce whether there will be an advisory referendum on this controversial new law. A petition for such a referendum was signed over 400 thousand times, 100 thousand more than the legal minimum for a referendum to be organized. If the Electoral Council decides that at least 300 thousand of these signatures are valid, a referendum will be organized. According to RTL, this will likely be held in March next year, at the same time as the municipal elections.

On Saturday CDA leader Sybrand Buma said that he expects that the new government will implement the Intelligence and Security Law, regardless of the outcome of the referendum. He pointed out that the government agreement included the abolishment of advisory referendums. "If it becomes a no and that is followed, that means that this law is gone", he said, according to NOS. According to him, the result of that is that the intelligence services can't keep an eye on internet traffic. "And I find that unthinkable in this time."

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold called Buma's statements "unwise", but he too thinks that the law will eventually be implemented, reports. According to him, Minister Ollongren will look into whether the law can get more support over the coming months, but he doesn't think the law will be withdrawn. "That does not seem sensible to me. In times of terrorist threats we need a good and time appropriate law", he said on Tuesday. 

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.