Police mismanagement at wiretap monitoring office putting investigations at risk: Report
The police’s wiretap monitoring office is functioning so poorly that criminal investigations are at risk, NRC reports based on information from police officers. A new system purchased for millions of euros three years ago has not worked since its arrival, so the police are forced to use their heavily outdated old system that regularly breaks down.
The wiretap monitoring office is a crucial detection system at the heart of the police organization. All intercepted communication comes together here. In January 2019, the police purchased a new system to manage the wiretapping from the Israeli defense company Elbit. The system was supposed to collect, store, and make tapped data easily searchable. But the system hasn’t worked since the purchase, according to the newspaper.
For the past three years, the police, Elbit, and other technicians have been trying to get the new system up and running. Elbit employees are permanently present in the wiretap monitoring office in Driebergen. Not a single component is operational.
“Elbit sold a system that could do everything. But it can’t do anything or is unworkable. It is not for nothing that other countries like Belgium have already thrown the system out the door,” an involved police officer said to NRC. “The problem is not only the technology but also the organization. The wiretap room falls under IT as if it were all about automation. But it’s about detection. The management doesn't seem to understand that.”
Because the Elbit system is not working, the police rely on the old, also Israeli tapping system. When this system was bought in 2010, wiretaps mainly meant eavesdropping on conversations. So this system is not built for intercepting the much more complex data from smartphones and the apps running on them.
The fact that the police still managed to intercept criminal communications has to do with a different system that the police have been using as an add-on since 2010. The system, called Replay and developed by Dutch security company Fox-IT, is specifically aimed at analyzing complex data traffic.
The problem with Replay is that it was never discussed with the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament. In fact, the Kamer has heard from successive Ministers of Justice and Security that it was impossible for the Netherlands to develop its own tapping system, according to the newspaper.
Replay has since been taken off the air, which means the police now only have the outdated 2010 system to work with.