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Dutch bill seeks to give law enforcement hacking powers

Loek Essers | May 3, 2013
The Dutch government today presented a draft bill that aims to give law enforcement the power to hack into computer systems -- including those located in foreign countires -- to do research, gather and copy evidence or block access to certain data.

The draft bill immediately drew criticism.

"It is important that the government wants to combat cybercrime but this proposal is rushed: it is unnecessary and creates new security risks for citizens," said Simone Halink of Dutch digital rights organization Bits of Freedom in a blog post on Thursday. The proposal ignores alternatives, she said, adding that the police already has the power to fight online crime but lacks knowledge and manpower to do so efficiently. A better solution would be to increase police manpower instead of increasing their digital investigation powers, she added.

Moreover, the pending Dutch legislation could set an example for other governments which could start an arms race between hacking governments, she said. Governments should be closing security holes, and not leave them open, she said.

Bits of Freedom called on Dutch citizens to reach out to the government and asked the government to reconsider the bill.

At the moment the draft bill is in the consultation phase, meaning parties involved such as the police and other law enforcement as well as citizens and advisory bodies will be able to comment on it, ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema said. Following that, the bill will be sent to sent to the Council of Ministers after which it will be sent to the Dutch Council of State, an advisory body on legislation. The bill will probably be send to the House of Representatives by the end of the year, he said.

 

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