Intelligence chief Rob Bertholee has called on the cabinet to restrict the encryption of messages on chat services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
Bertholee told the Volkskrant that the Dutch security service AIVD needed to be able to ‘see into the communications of those who constitute a threat.’
In response to concerns of privacy campagaigners about giving the security services more access to personal data, Bertholee said: ‘I agree that protection of privacy is extremely important, but would people who hold privacy as their highest goal pursue it so enthusiastically if they’d been the victim of an attack?’
But Ronald Prins, of IT firm Fox-IT, warned that giving the security services access to data held by technology firms ran the risk of falling into the wrong hands.
‘The internet has gone dark for the AIVD and the service no longer has any overview of what information people are exchanging online,’ he told NOS.
‘American tech firms such as Apple and Facebook would have to build a back door into their security apparatus so that western security firms have the keys to get into those messages. That sounds like a good idea, but there is one very big risk: the keys could get into the wrong hands, such as the Russians and Chinese, who are constantly tapping our information.’
In an interview at the weekend, Bertholee warned that the terrorist threat in the Netherlands has ‘never been so high’, though he declined to give details of attacks that have been prevented or the number of people on the AIVD’s radar.
He added said that staff from 30 European security services were holding daily meetings in the Netherlands to exchange information about terrorist suspects.