In the Dutch Citizens v. Plasterk case about the international exchange of data between secret services, the coalition of citizens and organizations (including Privacy First) has explained its appeal before the Hague Court of Appeals. In its statement of appeal, which was submitted to the Court on 2 February 2016, the coalition details why the ruling of the district court of The Hague (in Dutch) is wrong.  

In summary, the district court of the Hague has ruled that the collaboration and exchange of data on the basis of trust between Dutch secret services and foreign secret services (among which the American NSA) may simply be continued. According to the judge, the importance of national security is the determining factor, thereby essentially giving the Dutch AIVD (general intelligence and security service) and MIVD (military intelligence and security service) carte blanche to collect bulk data of Dutch citizens via foreign intelligence agencies without any legal protection, only because of the designation ‘national security’.

The Citizens v. Plasterk coalition deems this ruling to be in flagrant breach of the right to privacy and has lodged an appeal. It must be noted that the coalition isn’t seeking to ban the collaboration with foreign services as such. However, we find that when it comes to collaborating and receiving data, strict safeguards should be maintained. Failure to do so means that data that has been obtained by the NSA and other intelligence services in violation of Dutch law, illegally end up in the hands of Dutch intelligence services. This comes down to the laundering of data through an illegitimate U-turn.

"By using NSA data, minister Plasterk and his services are laundering illegally obtained data. This case should put an end to that", says our lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm of bureau Brandeis. Read our entire statement of appeal HERE (pdf in Dutch).

What’s next?

The Dutch government will first have to react to our statement of appeal in a statement of defence on appeal, after which the Hague Court of Appeals will schedule a hearing and render a ruling.

Meanwhile, our coalition has been admitted to intervene in the legal proceedings against the British government that the British organization Big Brother Watch et al. have brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This is a significant development because as a result, the ECtHR may, at an early stage, be able to issue a verdict that is relevant to our Dutch case. Click HERE (pdf) for the recent decision on admissibility by the European Court and HERE for more information about the British case on the Court's website.

The Citizens v. Plasterk case

At the end of 2013, the Citizens v. Plasterk coalition summoned the Dutch government, represented by the Dutch minister of the Interior, Ronald Plasterk. This was prompted by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the practices of (foreign) intelligence services. The coalition demands that the Netherlands stops using data that have been obtained in violation of Dutch law.

In February 2014 the case almost led to minister Plasterk’s withdrawal from office. It had emerged that Plasterk had wrongfully informed the Dutch House of Representatives on the exchange of data between Dutch and foreign intelligence services. The Dutch services had passed on 1.8 million items of data to the Americans and not the other way around, as he had previously claimed.

In July 2014 the district court of The Hague rejected the claims of the coalition, after which the coalition lodged an appeal before the Hague Court of Appeals.

At the end of 2015 it became known that the coalition may participate in a British lawsuit before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The participating citizens in the coalition are: Rop Gonggrijp, Jeroen van Beek, Bart Nooitgedagt, Brenno de Winter and Mathieu Paapst. The participating organizations are: the Privacy First Foundation, the Dutch Association of Defence Counsel (NVSA), the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) and Internet Society Netherlands.

The case is taken care of by bureau Brandeis, in particular by our lawyers Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm and Caroline de Vries, who make use of the bureau Brandeis’s pro-bono fund.

Update 9 February, 2016: today the coalition submitted its written submissions to the European Court of Human Rights, click HERE (pdf).

Published in Litigation

 

WikiNews, Tuesday, November 20, 2007 

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling announced to a shocked House of Commons today that two password-protected — but not encrypted — computer disks containing the entire Child Benefit database have been lost in transit between the offices of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Washington, Tyne & Wear and the National Audit Office (NAO) in London, in what has been described as "one of the world’s biggest ID protection failures".

The database contains details of all families in the UK who receive Child Benefit — all families with children up to 16 years of age, plus those with children up to 20 years old if they are in full-time education or training — estimated to contain 25 million individuals in 7.25 million families. Among other items of information, the database contains names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit and National Insurance numbers, and where appropriate, bank or building society account details.

The discs were created by a junior official at the HMRC in response to a request for information by the NAO, and were sent unregistered and unrecorded on 18 October using the courier company TNT — which operates the HMRC's internal mail system. When it was found that the discs had not arrived for audit at the NAO, a further copy of this data was made and sent — this time by registered mail — and this package did arrive. HMRC were not informed that the original discs had been lost until 8 November, and Darling himself was informed on 10 November.

The violation of data protection laws involved in the creation of the discs has led to strong attacks on the government's competence to establish the proposed National Identity Register, when all UK residents will have an identity card. Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne described the loss of data as "catastrophic" and said "They [the government] simply cannot be trusted with people's personal information".

The Chairman of HMRC, Paul Gray, has resigned over the affair, and critics are calling for Darling to do likewise.

This is the third data embarrassment for HMRC in recent weeks — earlier this month it was reported that the details of over 15,000 Standard Life customers had been put on disk, and then lost en route from HMRC in Newcastle to Standard Life in Edinburgh — and last month a laptop containing the data of 400 people with high-value ISAs was stolen from the boot of a car belonging to a HMRC official who had been carrying out a routine audit.

Sources

Published in Identity Theft
Sunday, 23 August 2009 19:47

Suspect Nation

The famous British documentary "Suspect Nation" portrays the development of the United Kingdom into an electronic surveillance State. First having been broadcast by the BBC in November 2006, it is all the more relevant today: 

Published in Video Corner

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