Political parties take it slow over Big Brother law referendum campaign

The local elections are overshadowing the referendum. Photo: DutchNews.nl

With fewer than three weeks to go before the referendum on a new law to give sweeping internet tapping powers to the security services, campaigners for and against are keeping a low profile, the NRC said on Friday.

The referendum, which is being held on the same day as the local elections, is purely advisory and will only have any weight if more than 30% of the electorate take part.

The government in particular is waiting until the last few days to launch its campaign, Ivo Hommes, the director of communication at the home affairs ministry, told the paper.

‘We estimate that voters will only decide which way to vote a few days in advance of the vote,’ he said.

The new law was passed by a large majority in the lower house of parliament and none of the political parties which supported the bill are campaigning for people to vote in the referendum, the paper said.

Even the Forum voor Democratie, which is a major supporter of referendums, has no plans ‘for a fanatical campaign’. The party is trying to win seats on Amsterdam city council. ‘We did not organise this referendum and we have greater ambitions,’ a spokesman said.

The controversial legislation gives the security services powers to tap entire networks and hack private individuals in the hunt for information. It has also been criticised by the government’s highest advisory body, the Council of State as well as various privacy bodies.

In total, €2m is available for publicity campaigns – up to €5,000 for private individuals and €50,000 for companies and other organisations.

Only Dutch nationals can vote in the referendum.