Dutch gov't can keep Big Data law in current form, court rules

Data theft
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The government does not have to withdraw its new law on the Dutch intelligence and security services in its current form, the court ruled on Tuesday in summary proceedings filed by a group of privacy organizations and companies, NU.nl reports.

The Intelligence and Security Act, also called the Big Data- and data mining law by opponents, was implemented on May 1st. It gives the Netherlands' two intelligence and security services more power. The biggest change is that the AIVD and MIVD are now able to tap telephone and internet traffic on a large scale. The services are allowed to perform hacks more often, and on a larger range - where the services could previously only hack a specific suspect, the new law allows them to reach the suspect by hacking the computer of a housemate, for example. The new law also gives the services the capability of storing DNA material for investigations. The expansion of powers is balanced with more supervision on the services.

After a majority of Dutch voted against the law in a referendum in March, the government agreed to make some changes to the law. These changes include that the Dutch services can only share data with foreign countries with the same democratic standards as the Netherlands. And the services must reassess whether collected data can still be stored every year, instead of just storing data for three years. Privacy organization Bits of Freedom called these changes "mainly cosmetic".

These changes are only referred to in additional documentation, the law itself has not yet been changed. The government considered this enough to implement the law, but the group of privacy organizations and companies wanted the law to be withdrawn until its actual text has been changed.

"The fact that the government announces that it wants to change the law, but has not yet done the deed and already implemented the law, does not do justice to the result of the referendum", Hans de Zwart, director of Bits of Freedom, said, according to the newspaper. "The law should have been changed first. That is important, because parliament and the Senate can do justice to the concerns of the citizen." The group will discuss whether follow-up legal steps will be taken.