The Dutch secret services AIVD and MIVD plan to expand the scope of their monitoring services to cover internet and telephone traffic and ministers are sympathetic to the idea, broadcaster Nos reported at the weekend.
At the moment, the security services are only allowed to collect bulk details about conversations made via satellite or short wave. But they want to expand the scope of the legislation to cover internet and cable-based telephone connections, the broadcaster said.
In a couple of weeks a report on security service legislation will be published and is expected to recommend revisions to take account of new technology.
According to the Volkskrant, the security services have already ordered listening systems which will allow them to bulk collect data about internet and telephone traffic.
And the secret service supervisory board CTIVD has no plans to intervene, arguing that the current laws have been overtaken by events, the paper says.
Internet privacy lobby group Bits of Freedom has already warned that any expansion of the security services’ powers would be ‘totally unacceptable’ and a ‘gigantic breach of privacy and the right to freedom of speech’.
Meanwhile, a public prosecution deparment official has said police and the justice ministry tap so many phones and internet connections that they are compromising on quality and investigation capacity.
Marc van Nimwegen told the Gelderlander that he is not against tapping but is concerned about the tendancy to ‘over-tap’. ‘It can be useful if you have strong suspicions about a criminal and you want to collect evidence,’ he said. ‘But in the Netherlands we are tapping like crazy.’
The Netherlands is already the most heavily phone-tapped country in the world. The number of phone taps rose 3% to nearly 25,500 last year, according to justice ministry figures. These do not include phone taps instigated by the security services.