Justice minister Ivo Opstelten on Tuesday refused to comment on claims the Dutch security service AIVD works together with the US secret services in collecting information from email and social media traffic.
‘We never comment about alliances with foreign services,’ Opstelten said in reply to MPs questions following reports in the Telegraaf. European Commissioner Viviane Reding will raise the issue with the Americans at the forthcoming G8 talks, Opstelten said.
Dutch security service AIVD has also received information on email and social media traffic via US spy system PRISM, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.
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.
Dutch companies also cooperated with the US authorities’ request for information, the source said, claiming that ‘there are agents ready to deal with requests for information inside companies and institutions.’
‘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 the justice minister believes the police should be given greater powers to hack into private computers in their efforts to combat cyber crime.
In the preliminary briefing, Opstelten wrote that computer-based crime is increasing and ‘the expertise, capacity and experience within the criminal justice system has not improved accordingly’.
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.
Eavesdropping is only allowed when very serious crimes have been committed where suspects are in temporary custody, the public prosecution department said at the time.
The Netherlands sanctions more phone taps per head of population than any other country in the world.
MPs on Tuesday demanded an explanation of the Telegraaf’s claims.
‘This is the same as a digital house search and we have rules for this in the Netherlands,’ said D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw.
A spokesman for the ruling VVD said the issue is complicated. ‘There is always tension between the interests of public safety and privacy,’ the spokesman is quoted as saying by Nos television.
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