Citizens vs Plasterk

In the Citizens v Plasterk case, a coalition of citizens and organisations (including Privacy First) demanded that the AIVD and MIVD stop receiving and using illegally collected foreign intelligence on Dutch citizens, for example through the US NSA's infamous PRISM programme.

Wooden court gavel

Back in 2013, Privacy First, together with other organisations and citizens, conducted the lawsuit 'Citizens against (Minister) Plasterk'. This case against the State was prompted by Edward Snowden's revelations about the practices of (foreign) intelligence services, including the US NSA and UK GCHQ. Our coalition demanded that the State stop using foreign intelligence not obtained in accordance with Dutch law. Our lawyers at Bureau Brandeis conducted this case pro bono. Its member organisations were Privacy First, the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers (NVSA), the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) and Internet Society Netherlands. Unfortunately, after disappointing rulings by both the District Court and the Court of Appeal of The Hague, the Supreme Court also dismissed the case in 2018. In doing so, the Supreme Court has since provided a licence for Dutch secret services to continue collecting large amounts of data of Dutch citizens via foreign intelligence services without legal protection. Our lawyers therefore continued this case at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in early 2019, in parallel with similar British and Swedish court cases. Despite subsequent delays caused by the Corona crisis, Privacy First hoped that the Court would soon reach a critical verdict. In early July 2023, however, our lawyers received notice that the Court had declared our case inadmissible without any explanation. A statement of reasons for this decision is missing. After almost 10 years of litigation on this issue, this is extremely disappointing. This also raises the question: is this Court still as sharp and critical as before, and would citizens and organisations in this type of case not be better off going to another (national constitutional or European) Court by now?