Our Internet Freedom Manifesto

By popular demand: an English translation of our Internet Freedom Manifesto for the upcoming Dutch elections. We believe the Netherlands needs an open internet: a place where everyone can freely share and easily access information. A place where private communication remains private. Here are eleven points that should not be missing from any election program.

You can find a PDF-version of the manifesto here (many thanks to our supporters who were kind enough to translate the manifesto):


1. Stringently test any form of constitutional infringement

Necessity, proportionality, subsidiarity and effectiveness are preliminary requirements. Any constitutional infringements should be preceded by an impact assessment, comprising an identification of a time horizon and evaluation techniques, and must always be prescribed by law.

2. Privacy should be by design

IT systems of government and private industry should be built with privacy as a starting point. Principles such as anonymization, use limitation, data minimization, transparency and user-centric design are the key to protection. Databases containing the private information of millions of Dutch citizens should be optimally protected and scrutinized by regular audits. Existing systems that fail to implement any of the above, must be abolished or remodeled.

3. Give citizens control of their data

Citizens should have a better insight into and have more control over the use of data they enter on web services. Companies should only be allowed to process this data with explicit consent and clear policy on its usage. This should be closely monitored and enforced by the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

4. Guard privacy of communication

The Constitution should be adapted to protect all means of communication. Only when there is a substantial suspicion, a necessity for the investigation and confirmation by a judicial warrant, may the government conduct surveillance. Absolute transparency is required concerning the methods of investigation, particularly the use of wiretaps, spyware and any requests made for personal information. The use of encryption and the possibility to use the internet anonymously should not be hindered.

5. Protect freedom of information

All information in accordance with the law must be freely accessible to all Dutch citizens. Websites can not be forced to remove information without prior judicial approval. Permanent, indiscriminate monitoring or filtering of information must be prohibited. Social networks may only remove information in accordance with clear and consistent terms of service. Registration under a pseudonym must remain possible.

6. Do not store private communications

Under current European law, telecommunications companies are obligated to keep detailed logs of all their clients’ communications along with the according locations for up to two years. This legislation does not benefit the security of the Netherlands, but does constitute a breach of privacy and freedom of communication of millions of Dutch people. The Dutch government should move to abolish the European data retention requirement and suspend these rules within the Netherlands.

7. Draft a balanced cyber security policy

A safe information society is paramount to our economy and democracy. The policies surrounding cyber security should not create a false sense of security, but actually protect our digital world and not infringe on our constitutional rights. Therefore, policies must be based on realistic and verifiable assessments of threats and risks. Any call for for new surveillance powers must have a demonstrable necessity.

8. Modernize copyright legislation

Copyright was meant to stimulate the creation and sharing of culture. Now – in contrast – outdated measures are victimizing both artists, as well as non-artists. The Netherlands should seek out new business models to distribute creative works, such as films, music and books online. It should refrain from any measures that undermine the freedom of internet, such as rendering downloading illegal, blocking web sites, monitoring online activities or internet disconnection.

9. Protect net neutrality

Internet service providers must not be allowed to limit access to websites or tier the use of web services such as YouTube and Skype. Disallowing this will ensure the availability of the internet, it will lower the costs of communication and stimulate innovation. OPTA – the independent post and telecommunications authority – must enforce the recently introduced net neutrality legislation.

10. Oppose ACTA

The drafting process of ACTA has been highly controversial and the treaty itself presents a clear threat to internet freedom. Furthermore, ACTA will prevent the Netherlands in its development of modern policies to protect intellectual property. The Netherlands should not ratify ACTA and actively oppose any similar proposals.

11. Mandatory data breach notifications

Leakage of personal data greatly increases the risk of identity fraud and results in a fading of trust in information technology. The Netherlands must not wait for EU legislation and require the government and private industries to notify the people involved in case of unauthorized attempts to access personal information. A public registry of data breaches would hold organizations accountable and allow them to learn from each other’s mistakes.

We have distributed our manifesto to all Dutch political parties. We will continue to assist and advise members of these parties in order to get them to adopt our points in their election programs. When all programs are finalized, we will analyze them and translate the parties’ stance on internet freedom, after which all results will be published via our ‘Digitale Vrijheidswijzer‘ (Digital Freedom Guide): a tool we have developed to help voters choose between parties.

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