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Dragnet surveillance for secret services

Police hacking

The Dutch government introduced a new law that will equip the secret services with dragnet surveillance. But people don’t want a dragnet inhibiting their freedoms without making them more safe. They firmly put the brakes on the new law by demanding an advisory referendum.

Bits of Freedom is pleased about the upcoming referendum. Soon Dutch citizens will be able to voice their opinion on the most controversial surveillance law in the Netherlands.

The ball is finally in the court of citizens

The last few years, we have put up a long fight against the dragnet bill, which, unfortunately, still passed into law by the Senate. Nonetheless, the ink of the new law was barely dry when the initiators behind the request for a referendum forced the government’s hand to hold a consultative referendum on this new law through a citizen’s initiative. This is a big achievement by a small group of concerned students.

What will we do before the referendum?

We will be campaigning for a vote against the dragnet law. This vote is not only a protest against a growing surveillance society, but also a call on the government to improve the protection of innocent citizens. This could definitely be improved. We are currently working hard in preparing our campaigns, but you will hear from us soon.

We hope that a broad public debate will emerge on the fundamental question of where we draw the line as a society. For us, this is crystal clear: that line is crossed when large groups of innocent citizens get caught up in the dragnet of secret services. This is exactly why this law must be sent back to the drawing board.

When is the referendum taking place?

The electoral councilThe council's website gives a clear explanation of how advisory referenda work in the Netherlands still has to officially determine whether the required amount of valid requests has been met. This has to take place within two weeks after the deadline of 16 October. After this formality, the council will determine the date of the referendum. In all likelihood, it will coincide with the local elections on 21 March 2018.

What about a lawsuit against the law?

There’s more than one way to skin a cat and that also applies to this law. We certainly don’t rule out the possibility of partnering up with other civil society organizations and companies (headed by the Public Interest Litigation Project)The English website of PILP to legally challenge parts of this law in court.

How did we get here?

On 14 February 2017 the Dutch lower house (house of representatives) passedOur first response to this parliamentary outcome the bill for a new Intelligence and Security Services Act, despite major opposition from experts, regulators, civil society, political parties and citizens. Unfortunately this bill has been passedA brief overview of the Senate's debate and voting on the bill by the Dutch Senate on 11 July 2017.  It is expected that the new law will enter into force on 1 January 2018.

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