300,000 back bid for referendum on Big Brother phone tap law

Over 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum on the new Dutch law on telephone tapping, described by its opponents as a charter for Big Brother.

If enough of the signatures are valid, the referendum is likely to be held in March, on the same day as the local elections. This will also make it more likely that at least 30% of the electorate take part – the turnout necessary for the result to have legal standing.

The electoral council will state on November 1 if the required number of signatures to call a referendum have been collected.

Even if the referendum does go ahead and more than 30% of voters take part, the referendum only has an advisory role.

The controversial legislation, which is due to come into effect in 2018, will give the security services powers to tap entire networks and hack private individuals in the hunt for information.

Ministers say the new rules are needed to combat terrorism.