The new government will ignore the results of a referendum on a new law giving greater powers to the security services to tap phone and internet connections, CDA leader Sybrand Buma said at the weekened.
‘We have agreed that we are going to scrap referendums,’ Buma said, referring to the new government’s decision to remove the option from the statute books. ‘It belongs in the past. And I want the law to come into effect. I will not consider this referendum to be a real one.’
A group of students have collected over 400,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the law, nicknamed a Big Brother charter by opponents. If it goes ahead, the vote is likely to be held in March, alongside the local government elections.
The new government has already said it plans to repeal legislation which removes the right of citizens to organise referendums, which have an advisory nature only.
Buma’s comments caused consternation among opposition parties at the weekend, and D66 parliamentarian Kees Verhoeven described Buma’s comments as ‘not sensible’. He called instead for a ‘nuanced and contents-driven’ debate about new law in an interview with the Financieele Dagblad.
On Monday, however, VVD and ChristenUnie MPs said they backed the law. It is ‘absolutely essential’, VVD parliamentarian Ockje Tellegen said. ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said he too wanted a debate about the law but that it is too important to leave up to a referendum.
Newspaper columnists said the difference of opinion between D66 and the other parties is ‘the first crack’ in the new coalition.
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.
It has been criticised by the government’s highest advisory body, the Council of State as well as various privacy bodies.