Dutch Activists to Fight on After Dragnet Surveillance Passage

For activists in the Netherlands, the lower house passage of dragnet surveillance was a setback. Still, Bits of Freedom have said that they will fight on.

Back in February, the Dutch House of Representatives passed Intelligence and Security Services Act. Bits of Freedom, a dutch digital rights organization, describes the bill with the following:

Most importantly, the controversial new law will allow intelligence services to systematically conduct mass surveillance of the internet. The current legal framework allows security agencies to collect data in a targeted fashion. The new law will significantly broaden the agencies’ powers to include bulk data collection. This development clears the way for the interception of the communication of innocent citizens.

This law seriously undermines a core value of our free society, namely that citizens who are not suspected of wrongdoing, ought not to be monitored. Whether it concerns a WhatsApp-message or Skype-call, anything you do online might very well end up in the dragnet cast by the security agencies, provided that your communication falls within the scope of a vaguely defined ‘research assignment’

Other criticisms of the bill include the intelligence agencies being able to pass on surveillance information without actually analyzing it themselves. Another aspect people take issue with is the fact that the bill would also make surveillance a fully automated process. A human being need not be part of the operation of the surveillance in the first place.

So, what’s next in the fight for personal privacy? Apparently, the bill will move to the senate. Unfortunately, the bill cannot be amended at this point. Still, bits of Freedom say they will continue to raise the numerous concerns (Dutch, Google Translation) about the bill to the senators. In addition, the organization says that they will assess their options at this point while they figure out what the next steps should be.

So, while it seems that activists are dealing with such a setback, they are remaining optimistic about this current battle.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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