Monday 26 October 2020

Watchdog says security services risk breaking phone tap laws

The Dutch civilian and military security services must take ‘concrete steps’ in the short term to make sure they don’t break the new laws on electronic surveillance, the CTIVD watchdog said on Tuesday.

The new legislation, nicknamed the dragnet or Big Brother law, gives the AIVD and MIVD security services much wider powers to place telephone and internet taps and to hack into computer systems.

However, ‘essential guarantees to protect citizens’ have still not been properly implemented in internal policy, work processes and in the technology,’ the first CTIVD report said.

‘Instruments for compulsory internal controls are missing and that means that the CTIVD cannot carry out its external supervisory tasks effectively.’

A referendum earlier this year went against the new laws but they were introduced anyway, with extra guarantees that surveillance would be ‘as targeted as possible’. This compromise was dismissed by privacy campaigners as ‘worthless’

Now it transpires the security services have not yet made an effort to target their surveillance to avoid gathering information on large numbers of innocent people, the CTIVD said.

Legality

Last month, another commission set up to test the legality of internet tap requests said that too many of the applications it had looked at did not meet the letter of the law.

Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, who is in charge of the legislation said in a reaction that the impact of the new guarantees has turned out to be bigger than expected. ‘Everyone is working as hard as they can to make this workable in a structural sense,’ she said.

The CTIVD will publish a new report on the latest situation in six months time.

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