Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk and defence minister Jeanine Hennis are due to present their draft legislation for expanding the security services’ intelligence-gathering powers shortly. Nu.nl questioned various party representatives about their position.
Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak said the security services could only be given more powers if the influence of US and British secret services was removed. Plasterk, he pointed out, has been unable to say whether Dutch journalists are being spied on by the British security service GCHQ.
In addition, ‘the way the NSA has behaved has destroyed trust in the Americans,’ he said. ‘Our security service regulator has also spoken about the breach of trust. Plasterk said he would do something about it, but I have heard nothing.’
Labour MP Jeroen Recourt also said he wondered what Plasterk and Hennis have done to heal the breach with the Americans. ‘I do not want a government with a big net that fishes up everything it possibly can,’ he said.
‘We don’t want any expansion of powers without better control,’ D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw told nu.nl. ‘Big mistakes have been made in the past. Information has been gleaned outside the law and the ministry was generous in giving permission.’
VVD spokesman Klaas Dijkhoff said the legislation should not include such tight privacy rules as to make it impossible for the security services to do their jobs. Dijkhoff brushed off fears that the Netherlands would mine too widely for information. ‘No country in the world is more careful about intelligence,’ he said.
MPs are due to debate the security services on Tuesday afternoon. Ministers want to overhaul the options the security services have to listen in on private conversations to keep up-to-date with technological changes and the switch from landlines to mobile phones and social media.
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