Vijf vragen over de hackplannen van Opstelten

Dutch hacking proposal puts citizens at risk

Opstelten grijpt overhaast naar hackbevoegdheid
DOSSIER: Politie

The police should be allowed to hack into mobile phones and computers, even when these are located abroad. This is proposed by the Dutch government on May 2nd of 2013. While this appears to be a powerful asset for law enforcement, in reality it creates unnecessary vulnerabilities for citizens. Also, the proposal ignores several alternative solutions. The police already has the necessary means to fight cyber crime, but fails to apply them, due to limited resources and knowledge. Cyber crime must be addressed by expanding the resources of the police. Therefore the solution lies in expanding these resources rather than expanding the powers of the police.

The controversial proposal (in Dutch) doesn’t only allow the hacking of mobile phones and computers, it extends to spying on users and the deletion of data. It would also include devices which are located abroad. Furthermore, keeping your password secret from the police and fencing on the internet becomes, to a certain degree, punishable.

Combating cyber crime is important, but through this proposal we’re rushed into legislation which is unnecessary and raises serious safety risks for citizens.

The police lacks knowledge and resources

The police already has the necessary powers to act against cyber crime, but fails to act adequately. A recent publication by McAfee stated that over one hundred command & control servers are located in the Netherlands. It is possible to take those servers off line, investigate the data trail and block the internet connection of the server. But apparently none of this is being done, due to the lack of expertise and capacity.

Innocent civilians become victims

Instead, Opstelten, the Dutch minister of Justice, focuses on a very infringing hacking methods which turns civilians into victims by introducing additional safety risks. Examples from Germany show how easily the spyware used by the police could be abused by criminals. The same goes for backdoors in software, which are necessary to enable the police to hack computers. Furthermore, it is unclear how anti virus software should (and will) respond when it traces this spyware.

Slippery slope

At the same time other countries, such as China, will use the powers as a justification for their own activities. They will follow the Dutch example by allowing their police to use the same methods, including hacking abroad, in order to delete controversial data. Civilians will become the victims in an arms race between hacking governments. International cooperation, especially in the field of cybercrime, will be at stake. Therefore, it’s not surprising that an earlier version of the proposal was met with global opposition.

The government should withdraw this proposal

In conclusion: the proposal of the government is bad for our cyber security. The government should be fixing security problems instead of creating them. Furthermore, more attention should be paid to improving the basic security of computers. Bits of Freedom urges the government to reconsider this proposal.

We call upon everyone to share their concerns and opinions on this proposal with the Dutch government.

  1. nemesis

    Opstelten, a manice to society…

  2. hmmbow

    Big problem here is that people who now shit about the internet make the big decisions. Why is bits for freedom not a political party?

  3. Global Policy Weekly – May 10, 2013 | Center for Democracy & Technology

    […] Although approval from a judge would be required in all cases, digital rights group Bits of Freedom criticized the law, warning that other governments may use the Dutch precedent to justify more intrusive surveillance […]

  4. Dutch Data Protection Agency’s considerations on necessity and proportionality of the hacking power for LE proposed by the Dutch govt | Matthijs R. Koot's notebook

    […] as is apparent from the contributions to the public consultation that closed in July 2013, and from this post by Bits of Freedom. First, two takeaways from the […]

  5. In early 2015, Dutch govt will ask parliament to grant hacking power to law enforcement | Matthijs R. Koot's notebook

    […] In May 2013, the Dutch government submitted the proposal for public consultation. Bits of Freedom submitted criticism, as many others did (me too). The government also submitted the proposal to the Dutch […]

  6. Hacking back – should it be a legal right for those under cyberattack? - ITsecurityITsecurity

    […] aanpak-computercriminaliteit.html [2] [3] [4] […]

  7. State of play of internet freedom in the Netherlands « Bits of Freedom

    […] Departments This same minister, Van der Steur, desires to grant the Dutch law enforcement the power to hack computers and other equipment like iPads and smartphones. Ironically this will only make the Dutch internet user more unsafe, […]

  8. Who Needs Luck When Your Enemies Are Stupid? | The Kremlin Stooge

    […] goes straight into your pocket and takes it; sort of cuts out the middleman, what? The Netherlands proposed a law which would make keeping the password of your home computer a secret from the police punishable. […]


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