Good news: Dutch secret services destroy unlawfully stored information on millions of innocent citizens

The secret services store information on millions of citizens that they are no longer by law allowed to have. EDRi member Bits of Freefom filed a complaint about this with the supervisor. The supervisor stated on June 15, 2022, that the data must be destroyed.

By Bits of Freedom (guest author) · July 6, 2022

The Ministers of Defense and the Interior are responsible for the secret services. According to the law, they must, within two weeks, make known how and when they will destroy the datasets. They did so in a letter to the supervisor and Bits of Freedom. The datasets were made unavailable on the day of the supervisor’s decision and will be destroyed within three months.

This is important for your legal certainty. It is important that the government is predictable, reliable and can be scrutinized. So that you know where you stand. The basis for this is that the government abides by the law.

It’s also important for democracy and the rule of law. We must be able to hold the government to account, question it and dismiss it. When the government is much more powerful than its citizens, for example because it has a lot of information about its citizens, this becomes more difficult. Therefore we set limits on how much information the government can collect about its citizens and how it can use that information.

Finally, it’s important for a fair society. Everyone should have the same opportunities and freedoms and follow the same rules. When the government applies the rules more strictly in some cases than in others, or does not itself abide by the law, this becomes compromised. Inequalities will arise between people and the willingness to follow the rules decreases.

This whole process shows that the supervision of the secret services in the Netherlands is not strong enough. This has to change. Bits of Freedom will continue to fight for binding supervision that is not dependent on organizations like ours. So that your rights and freedoms are better protected.

Article originally published in Dutch.

Contribution by: Evelyn Austin , Director, EDRi member Bits of Freedom