Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk is refusing to say how many people’s phones were tapped by the security services and how often the practice is used, news site Nu.nl writes on Tuesday.
The figures were originally published in a report by the security service regulator, but were rendered illegible on the orders of the minister, NU.nl writes.
Even without the exact numbers, the CTIVD, whose remit was to look at instances of phone tapping between September 2012 to August 2013, makes it clear that there is an increase of 11% compared with the year before.
The use of sigint, or signals intelligence, which allows the monitoring of phone and internet activities is widespread: ‘thousands’ of numbers and email addresses are being monitored at the moment, NU.nl quotes the report as saying.
Ton Siedsma of civil rights movement Bits of Freedom says ‘the regulator is in a better position to determine whether publishing the figures is detrimental to Dutch security than Plasterk.’
According to D66 MP Gerard Schouw, the suppression of the figures comes down to ‘censorship’ while GroenLinks MP Linda Voortman says ‘Plasterk is laying himself open to accusations that the Netherlands is trying to hide the fact that phone tapping is rife.’
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