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Dutch Senate votes in favor of dragnet surveillance powers

Eerste Kamer stemt voor sleepnet: grootschalig tappen wordt mogelijk

Late last night the Dutch Senate passed the bill for the new Intelligence and Security Services Act. With the Senate’s vote, a years-long political battle has come to an end: the secret services have been afforded dragnet surveillance powers.

Disastrous result

We’re beyond disappointed that a bill has been passed that faced such overwhelming opposition from experts, civil society and citizens alike. Traditionally, Senate concerns itself with the quality of legislation, compliance with the constitution and international treaties, and the question whether citizens' rights are upheld. The dragnet surveillance bill fails on all counts.

What happened in the Senate?

During the debate, the bill was again met with a lot of criticism. Although a number of senators voted against the bill, a majority voted in favor and passed the flawed bill just before midnight. By doing so the senators gave in to the pressure placed on them to pass the bill before the summer recess.We wrote before how in the Dutch lower house, too, political expediency prevailed over sound legislation.

If we don’t draw the line at the large-scale interception of the online behavior of large groups of people, we may not be able to draw it at all.

This crosses a line

Targeted surveillance is already within the powers of the secret services. The new law additionally allows for untargeted surveillance, for the systematic and large-scale interception and analysis of citizens' online communications. Large numbers of citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing can be systematically monitored. For us this means a line has been crossed. For if we don’t draw the line at the interception and analysis of the online behavior of large groups of people, we may not be able to draw it anywhere.

Surveillance on this scale has no place in a free society like the Netherlands.

What's next?

The minister of internal affairs, Mr. Plasterk, announced during the debate in the Senate that the law will go into effect on 1 January 2018. Together with other NGOs we’re exploring the possibilities of fighting the law in court. We will keep you posted.

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