Amsterdam (Reuters) – The Netherlands is considering new laws to compel internet service companies to collect user data, after it was revealed a government agency was secretly tracking people online.
A panel of judges has recommended that the Dutch parliament pass a law requiring ISPs to hand over data about users in the country’s online life.
Under a draft bill the Netherlands’ Justice and Home Affairs Minister, Jan Smit, said the data could be used for “the prevention and detection of crime, the enforcement of national security laws, and the prevention and protection of national economic and social security”.
Internet providers would then have to collect the data by hand or by sending it to law enforcement agencies, the minister said.
In his comments on the bill, Smit said the legislation was needed to protect the country against cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage.
Internet service providers would not have to keep logs, he added.
“It is not necessary for us to know exactly how often we receive emails or how many people use our service, or the type of browser used,” Smit told the Dutch broadcaster RTL.
The Dutch parliament has already passed a bill requiring ISPs and other services to store the data of customers, although it has been criticised for giving companies too much power to decide who could access their data.
Internet users, who have long complained of slow internet speeds, are often left without information about the services they use.
The bill, which has not yet been approved by the Netherlands’s upper house of parliament, will also require ISPs to keep detailed information on customers’ browsing history, IP addresses and location information.
The draft law would also require them to disclose information about customers’ credit card and banking details.
A group of activists said they were concerned the law could be misused to spy on users and said the government was attempting to “reform” the country.
“This bill will create a new and dangerous surveillance state, that is not only an infringement on privacy but also on fundamental human rights,” the group said in a statement.
“We have seen this before, when the government made a law that forced ISPs to store information about its customers’ use of services such as email.
The same is happening here.”
The Netherlands has been under the spotlight in recent months as authorities investigate the use of WhatsApp and other messaging apps by Islamist militants.
The government has also been criticised over a crackdown on migrants in the past few months.