Insufficient safeguards in new Dutch national security act

The legislative proposal for a new Dutch Intelligence and Security Services Act (Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten, Wiv) includes insufficient safeguards. This is the opinion of 29 leading scientists in an open letter (in Dutch) sent to the Dutch Parliament today. The legislative proposal will be discussed in Parliament this week.

The scientists, with legal and technological backgrounds, mention five points on which the act should be amended:

  1. Supervision is spread thin across too many authorities. Prior supervision should rest with a single authority as much as possible, preferably a specialised court. Additionally, the independence and judgement of supervision could be guaranteed better, if the possibility of consulting experts were allowed for, for instance.
  2. An increasing amount of information is shared with foreign services. The decisions to this effect are not covered by prior independent supervision. This still needs to take place.
  3. The legislative proposal does not guarantee that the supervisory authorities have sufficient resources to do their work effectively and efficiently. The funds and staffing required has to be determined independently, for instance by the Dutch Court of Audit (Algemene Rekenkamer).
  4. The collection and analysis of information should be dealt with considerably more selectively, especially where information is collected in bulk. Irrelevant information should be deleted as soon as possible (a principle also referred to as ‘select while you collect’). Since it is difficult to establish in advance what technology is going to bring, new methods need to be assessed independently before they can be used.
  5. The highest possible degree of transparency is required for a solid basis and audit. The legislative proposal hardly provides for the question of which information can be published or retrieved. Neither is it clear what companies involved in surveillance are allowed to say about their involvement.

The initiators of the letter (in Dutch) are Prof. Dr Bart Jacobs (Radboud University) and Prof. Dr Nico van Eijk (University of Amsterdam).

14 December 2016