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Computerworld, 16 December 2014: 'Judges and officials against State over retention obligation'

Even magistrates and Justice Department employees are threatening to sue the State for maintaining the illegal retention obligation.

Opposition to Opstelten's enforcement of illegal data retention obligations is growing steadily. XS4ALL is threatening to sue, and earlier it was announced that a coalition of lawyers, journalists and ISPs are preparing a subpoena against the State.

Major concerns over violation of fundamental rights

The Dutch Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (NJCM) has also joined, the organisation confirmed to Computerworld. This association has about a thousand members, including judges, lawyers, civil servants and public prosecutors.

"We are very concerned about how the state deals with international rulings and treaties. If it comes to a court case, we will join in," said Jelle Klaas, project coordinator at the NJCM. Normally, this club deals with advice and lobbying, but it recently decided to expose human rights violations in court as well.

Coalition grows

It is expected that these summary proceedings will go ahead, now that the Justice Department has dug in and continues to enforce the current illegal retention obligation. The State can still avoid a lawsuit by responding and engaging in talks. Klaas does not expect it, but hopes so: "It is very unwise not to respond."

In addition to provider BIT, ISPs Voys and SpeakUp have now joined the summary proceedings. The coalition is deliberately broad: 'ordinary' citizens (represented by Privacy First), ISPs that have to implement the retention obligation and people who have to deal with source protection or professional secrecy such as journalists and (criminal) lawyers. And so lawyers, including those working in the government itself as civil servants or magistrates, who stand up for human rights, represented by the NJCM.

Big Brother

They demand that the Justice Department immediately cease enforcement of the retention obligation, now that both the European Court and the Council of State rule that it violates fundamental rights. Lawyer Fulco Blokhuis calls it "incredibly opportunistic" that Opstelten is simply going ahead. He is particularly angered by this line of argument from the minister: "The retention of certain data of all citizens is therefore necessary, now that it is not possible to distinguish in advance between suspicious and non-suspicious citizens during storage."

Senate demands action

Pressure on Opstelten is also mounting in political The Hague. Several Lower House factions are demanding immediate suspension of the data retention obligation. From the Senate now comes a similar statement, in a letter to the minister from two standing parliamentary committees. "The government [...] cannot content itself with maintaining the old law unchanged until [the new bill is passed]. At the very least, it should already start applying the proposed restrictions"."

Source:, 16 December 2014.