The Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD do not make direct use of the US internet spy system PRISM or similar programmes, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk told reporters after Friday’s cabinet meeting.
However, the Netherlands does exchange information with foreign security services and this information may well have been collected by PRISM, Plasterk is quoted as saying by Nos television.
‘In the Netherlands you can’t just look at people’s emails and phone details without good reason and without permission,’ Plasterk said.
Internet and telephone traffic can only be monitored with official say so and where national security is concerned, according to a joint justice, defence and home affairs ministry statement issued on Friday.
Plasterk said the Netherlands only exchanges information with countries which have clear rules on collecting and storing information and abide by those rules.
Plasterk has commissioned an evaluation of the Dutch regulations.
When the PRISM scandal broke earlier this month, the Telegraaf reported that the AIVD has also received information on email and social media traffic.
If the AIVD lists an American address as suspicious, it is supplied all the information within five minutes, a source told the paper. The source worked for the department which monitored potential Dutch Muslim extremists, the paper said.
‘There are a couple of those secret programmes like Prism active in the Netherlands,’ the source is quoted as saying.
According to Dutch internet privacy lobby group Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands is also working on a monitoring system to keep an eye on citizens en masse.
Last year, website nu.nl reported that justice minister Ivo Opstelten believes the police should be given greater powers to hack into private computers in their efforts to combat cyber crime.
Opstelten also confirmed eavesdropping software that can be installed from a distance on the computers of suspects has been used in criminal investigations in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands sanctions more phone taps per head of population than any other country in the world.
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