Limburg police have denied eavesdropping on WhatsApp internet traffic after making a formal visit to a man who used the word ‘bomb’ while using the free message service.
The Liberal democratic party D66 asked questions in parliament about the case on Thursday, after it was reported in local media.
However, police were alerted to the message by an anonymous tip-off, a spokesman said later.
The man, who came from Sittard, had sent a message to family members asking who would like to accompany him to a local football derby.
His father messaged back saying he would but that he hoped no-one would throw any bombs. He was referring to a firework bomb thrown during the same derby last season.
The son replied: ‘Come on Dad, don’t be daft. I’ve made a bomb myself. A big fat bomb ha ha’. The same afternoon, four armed police officers turned up at his flat to question him.
‘Are we Big Brother? No, we are not Big Brother. Justice ministry officials don’t tap traffic via WhatsApp just like that,’ the police spokesman is quoted as saying by the NRC.
The number of internet taps carried out by Dutch police rose 500% to 16,600 last year, according to justice ministry figures published in July.
By contrast, the number of phone taps rose just 3% to nearly 25,500 despite doubts about their usefulness. And the number of requests for information about phone calls – such as the location calls were made from – reached almost 57,000, up 10% on 2011.
The Netherlands sanctions more phone taps than any other country in the world. The figures do not include taps by the security services.
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