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Draft subpoena against Sleep Act

Coalition warns Senate over new Intelligence and Security Services Act

Initiated by Privacy First, a coalition of civil society organisations today warned the Senate: if the new Intelligence and Security Services Act (Wiv or 'Sleep Act') is passed unchanged, it will mean a massive violation of the right to privacy and other fundamental civil rights. Should the Senate pass the current bill nevertheless approve, then a lawsuit against the Dutch state will follow. Led by Boekx Lawyers, the coalition today submitted a draft summons to that effect (pdf) submitted to the Senate. Besides Privacy First, the leading group of NGOs currently consists of the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers (NVSA) and the Civil Rights Protection Platform.

Fundamental objections

Our comprehensive draft subpoena sets out the fundamental objections that member organisations have to the powers that the services will gain with the new bill. If passed unchanged by the Senate, the Wiv will violate the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression and, as part of this, the right to confidential communications, the right to a fair trial and the right to effective legal protection. The Constitution stipulates that the Wiv must be disapplied if it violates international treaties, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. At least seven sections of the Wiv bill violate those conventions:

1) bulk interception power ("dragnet");

2) the regulation of source protection;

3) the power to hack third parties;

4) the power to force third parties to cooperate in decryption;

5) the regulation of the notification requirement;

6) the arrangement on cooperation with foreign intelligence and security services; and

7) the design of supervision.

Deaf ears

The coalition's objections to the bill were previously brought to the attention of the cabinet and the House of Representatives in detail. Similar criticism has also been voiced by, among others, the Council of State, the Council for the Judiciary, the Human Rights Board, the Personal Data Authority, the Intelligence and Security Services Regulatory Commission (CTIVD) and 29 leading scientists. So far, however, in vain. The broad public objections seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The coalition has therefore decided to voice its criticism of the bill in a summons, in order to demonstrate as clearly as possible the legal objections to the new powers given to the intelligence and security services. The criticism is based on case law from Europe's highest courts, which have issued several harsh rulings on legislation relating to secret services in recent years.

The coalition hopes that the Senate will reject the current bill and it will not be necessary to take the adopted law to court.


The current draft subpoena may still be supplemented. Privacy First calls on all civil society organisations and relevant businesses to join the coalition. To this end, contact the Public Interest Litigation Project (PILP, attn Jelle Klaas) in Amsterdam.

Click HERE for the entire draft summons (pdf, 51 pp).

Also read, 15 February 2017: 'Lawsuit looms against widely adopted WIV'.
Villamedia, 31 March 2017: 'Possible legal action over dragnet law Wiv'.

Read HERE Privacy First's earlier comments on the current bill.