Friday 26 February 2021

Privacy groups slam new Dutch police hack law

Photo: Depositphotos.comPrivacy watchdogs and lawyers’ organisations are highly criticial of draft Dutch legislation which will give the police what they say are ‘unprecedented’ powers to hack phones and internet.

Currently police are only allowed to hack into computers and phones on location, but the new law will allow them to do this remotely, as well as take photographs.

The government says the new law is necessary to get around encryption and other techniques criminals use to keep information secret. Privacy experts say the draft law is far too broad in scope.


‘We are extremely criticial,’ Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the official privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, told broadcaster Nos, ahead of special hearings in The Hague.

The new powers can be used if someone is suspected of any crime with a jail term of at least four years but this is far too broad, Kohnstamm said. ‘It should only be possible for cases of organised crime, terrorism or if a life is at stake,’ he said.

MPs on Thursday were able to question a number of lawyers and privacy experts about the new legislation, which will allow the police to install spywear and key loggers on suspects’ computers and phones.


Police spokeswoman Inge Philips told the MPs that home raids have more impact on suspects than a hack at a distance, particularly if family members are home when the police break in.

‘If we hack, we can keep them [family members] out of it,’ she said. It is extremely unlikely that the police will start nosing around in the computers of innocent people, she said. ‘That is not what we want.’

MPs are also critical of the proposals. D66 points out that the police will have to use weaknesses in software to break in. ‘So it will not be in the police’s interest to make software less vulnerable,’ one MP said.

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