The Dutch government’s response to the groundbreaking decision by the European Court of Justice to invalidate the data retention directive, is shocking. Despite all the debate about the legality of data retention practices, the government wants to retain its current data retention legislation. Equally ridiculous are the arguments the government uses to support that decision. Let’s look at two of of those arguments.
Everybody is a permanent suspect
Mister Opstelten, the Dutch minister of Security and Justice writes in his response:
“The retention of specific data regarding all citizens is therefore necessary, because during retention we cannot separate beforehand between suspicious and unsuspicious citizens.”
This goes against one of the basic principles of our rule of law: you are innocent until proven guilty. You have the right to privacy, and only when there is a targeted and concrete suspicion of an unlawful act can the government suspend this right temporarily and with strict safeguards. Opstelten writes: “we will retain data about everybody because we cannot predict who might later turn out to be a bad guy.” And of course, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.
“Without telecommunication data, the pursuit of for example jihadists, child-porn, muggings and murder will become difficult or even impossible.”
As if getting rid of data retention legislation means that no communication behavior data will be saved at all. Or even stored. And as if no murder ever got solved before everybody carried cellphones. And as if you can travel in the Netherlands without leaving a data trail. Even more: the government has never been able to demonstrate the necessity of data retention legislation to solve those horrible crimes.
You have to give it to minister Opstelten: just like earlier years, he is doing everything he can to win another Big Brother Award.