Wednesday 21 April 2021

Referendum on Big Brother surveillance law to take place om March 15

Computer keyboard with padlock.

Intelligence agencies are bracing themselves for Brexit hacks.

A referendum on the introduction of new legislation giving the security services far more powers to tap phones and internet traffic will take place on March 21 next year.

The electoral council said on Wednesday that enough signatures had been collected in support of the referendum, which was launched by five students at the University of Amsterdam. The results of the vote are purely advisory and at least 30% of the electorate need to vote for the referendum to have any legal weight.

The new law, described by opponents as a Big Brother’s charter, will give the security services the power to tap entire networks and hack private individuals in the hunt for information. It has been criticised by the government’s highest advisory body, the Council of State as well as various privacy bodies.

Although the referendum is going ahead, Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma has already said the new government will ignore the results.

In addition, the new government plans to remove the option to organise referendums from the statute books.

However, home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren said in a briefing to parliament that the cabinet will carefully consider the results, adding that the new law is necessary to allow the security services to monitor threats.

The new rules were due to come into effect in January but that has now been postponed to May.

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