Lawsuit against Dutch state for illegal data espionage
Almost everyone by now knows about the massive eavesdropping by the US National Security Agency (NSA). For years, the NSA has been secretly eavesdropping on millions of people around the world, ranging from ordinary citizens to journalists, politicians, activists, lawyers, judges, scientists, corporate CEOs, diplomats and even presidents and heads of state. In the process, the NSA does not care about territorial boundaries and laws in other countries, as the revelations by Edward Snowden in the PRISM scandal have now shown. However, instead of calling the Americans to order, secret services in other countries appear to be eagerly using the intelligence illegally obtained by the NSA. As a result, national, European and international laws that are supposed to protect citizens against such practices are violated twice: by foreign secret services like the NSA illegally collecting intelligence and by secret services in other countries that then use this intelligence. This poses an acute threat to everyone's privacy and to the healthy functioning of every democratic constitutional state. So too in the Netherlands, where neither the national parliament nor the responsible minister Plasterk (Interior) have so far intervened adequately. This situation cannot continue any longer. So a national coalition of Dutch citizens and organisations (including Privacy First) decided today to call on the Dutch State suing and demand an immediate end to the receipt and use of illegal foreign intelligence on Dutch territory. Moreover, anyone about whom such intelligence has been collected should be informed. Also, the relevant data should be deleted.
Privacy First is pursuing this lawsuit primarily in the public interest, to restore the right to privacy of every citizen in the Netherlands. The lawsuit is led by agency Brandeisour Passport Process against the Dutch state. Privacy First views positive outcomes in both court cases in the short term with confidence.
Click HERE for the subpoena as it fell on Minister Plasterk's doormat today.
Besides Privacy First, the coalition of litigants includes the following organisations and citizens:
- The Dutch Association of Defence Counsel (NVSA)
- The Netherlands Union of Journalists (NVJ)
- the Internet Society Netherlands (ISOC.nl)
- Jeroen van Beek
- Rop Gonggrijp
- Bart Nooitgedagt (represented by the NVSA)
- Matthieu Paapst (represented by ISOC.co.uk).
- Brenno de Winter (represented by NVJ).
Update 5 February 2014: today, the Dutch State (Ministries of Interior and Defence) responded to the summons in a comprehensive 'Conclusion of Reply'; click HERE for the entire document (pdf; copy at Telegraph) and HERE for the press release from our lawyers at Brandeis firm. Interestingly, the country's lawyer considers only Privacy First admissible (see p. 31). This already puts Privacy First with one foot in front of the Hague court in this case. This development is also significant for our civil law Passport Trial, in which the Court of Appeal of The Hague previously ruled Privacy First et al inadmissible and the Court of Appeal of The Hague is currently reconsidering this legal question. In Privacy First's view, both in the NSA/AIVD court case and in our Passport trial, all litigants (citizens as well as organisations) should be declared admissible by the court.
Update 7 May 2014: the court hearing will take place on Tuesday, 13 May at 9.30am at the District Court of The Hague. It is a public hearing. You are therefore welcome!
Update 13 May 2014: this morning the court hearing took place; click HERE For a prior interview with Privacy First on Radio 1 and HERE for an impression by our lawyers, including hyperlinks to the pleadings. The court's verdict is tentatively scheduled for 8 July next.
Update 7 July 2014: the court verdict has been postponed for 2 weeks and is now scheduled for Wednesday, 23 July next.
Update 23 July 2014: today, the court in The Hague issued an extremely disappointing ruling; click HERE. Privacy First et al appeal to the Hague Court of Appeal.