A couple days ago a new law has been adopted by the Dutch Senate, Eerste Kamer which allows the Dutch police to hack suspects’ devices like smartphones, laptops, security cameras and navigation systems. RTL Nieuws reported such powers were only allowed to intelligence services earlier.
The law was unanimously passed as members of VVD, PvdA, CDA, ChristenUnie, and D66 voted for the law. It will be officially called Computer Crime Act III. GroenLinks, SP, 50Plus, PvdD and PVV voted against the law. The law was approved in December by the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament and will be implemented from 1st January 2019.
Reports suggest the police want to use hacking mainly to detect drug dealers, smugglers, pedophiles and cybercriminals who carry out attacks on banks. The law would allow police to hack people suspected of crimes that carry a prison sentence of at least four years.
The law comes with a controversy as it allows police to use hacking tools. Hacking tools can be installed remotely, whereas earlier police were only allowed to install physical tools like keyloggers. Hacking tools use Zerodays vulnerabilities to break into devices and the police have to report these to the software developer so it can be fixed. Though the problem with hacking tools is the user is not aware which vulnerabilities are being abused, and hence reporting it to the manufacturer is not possible.
Ton Siesma of civil right organization Bits of Freedom speaking to the reporters said – “In practice, this software will be used a lot. With this, the police maintain a shadowy market that benefits from your insecurity. With this law, the Netherlands does not become safer, but more insecure.”
The law also states that it bans purchasing stolen digital information, thereby treating stolen digital information the same as other stolen goods. The also empowers the police with the possibility to use a “bait teenager” while tracking down a pedophile. This will not be an actual teenager, and will not even necessarily be a human. For example Aid organization Terre des Hommes uses a virtual little girl named Sweetie to track down pedophiles.