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How a Dutch law affects the global internet traffic

Where is Edward Snowden when you need him? In a small country by the sea, some disturbing legislation is underway that has consequences for internet users around the world.

With this new bill, the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD and DISS) would be empowered to investigate cable-bound telecommunication. The new proposed Dutch legislation is a modernization of a 2002 law on Intelligence and Security, which allows mobile communication to be captured. The new law would expand the reach of the intelligence services to fixed lines and cables, including optical fiber. The legislation is sold to the public from an anti-terror perspective. And the Dutch government believes that the protection of the high tech industry, vital sectors and the government need to be protected by a modernization of the law. If passed by Dutch parliament, we could see this legislation go into effect as early as 2017/2018.

The proposed law would rule that AIVD and DISS would have to cooperate with intelligence services of other countries. The timely sharing of information is critical to intelligence and security services; and in the eyes of the Dutch Government, the ‘need to share’ principle must apply to prevent terrorist attacks, and protect military operations with allies. Granting the permission to share these ‘large data sets’  would be in the hands of the minister, and if you want smaller data sets the Dutch services would be free to give them out within certain limits.

The Netherlands is such a tiny country, so why could this legislation be important for global internet users? That has to do with AMS-IX, one of the the largest internet exchanges in the world. Immense volumes of data from all over the globe run across the AMS-IX hub. Under the new law, intelligence services are allowed to monitor the traffic for surveillance and detection purposes. The deployment of powers under the law is said to be object-targeted. But you do not have to have much imagination to understand that in order to find object-related communications, a data-lake of all sorts of communication needs to be created  – including that of innocent people.

We find this legislation to be a disturbing development. The need-to-share principle paves the way for foreign security services to tap into the AMS-IX equipment by proxy.

One thing is certain, the law will boost the wider use of end-to-end encryption.

Would you like to know if your network could be protected from snooping eyes? Contact us at

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