Dutch Law Would Authorize Police To Hack Into Foreign Computers And Phones: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

from the thinking-it-through dept

When we wrote last year about a Dutch idea to give police there the power to break into computers — even those located abroad — we and many others pointed out a number of deep flaws with the plan. Undeterred, the Dutch government seems to be going ahead with the scheme, as Bits of Freedom explains:

The police should be allowed to hack into mobile phones and computers, even when these are located abroad. This is proposed by the Dutch government on May 2nd of 2013. While this appears to be a powerful asset for law enforcement, in reality it creates unnecessary vulnerabilities for citizens.

Not content with that really bad idea, there’s a couple of others tacked on for good measure, as the BBC reports:

The bill would also make it a crime for a suspect to refuse to decipher encrypted files during a police investigation.

It is expected the draft legislation will be put to parliament by the end of the year.

The bill singles out child pornography and terrorism as two areas of special concern. The publication of stolen data would also become punishable.

It’s easy to see how the last of those could be abused to silence inconvenient whistleblowers. Bits of Freedom sums up well the key danger with the bill:

other countries, such as China, will use the powers as a justification for their own activities. They will follow the Dutch example by allowing their police to use the same methods, including hacking abroad, in order to delete controversial data. Civilians will become the victims in an arms race between hacking governments.

Indeed, it’s worth considering for a moment what the Chinese response will be when it finds Dutch police, with the full approval of the Dutch government, deleting files or installing spyware on computers on its territory. It won’t matter if the latter were involved in breaking into Dutch systems, or controlling a global botnet: national pride will be at stake over what will effectively be an attack on Chinese citizens and property. So as not to lose “face“, a robust response is guaranteed. Is the Netherlands (population 6,065,459 16,788,973) really ready to take on China (population 1,353,821,000) over this?

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Comments on “Dutch Law Would Authorize Police To Hack Into Foreign Computers And Phones: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

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40 Comments
ethorad (profile) says:

Try "defending their citizens from attack"

Don’t try and belittle China’s hypothetical response by ascribing it to some mystical belief in the need to keep face.

How about protecting their citizens from attack?

After all consider if some foreign power, say Iran, decided that a US citizen in the US had committed a crime against Iran, and so they hacked into US computers in an attempt to attack the targeted individual. How would the US react to that? I’m guessing a lot more belligerently than China would.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Is the Netherlands (population 6,065,459) really ready to take on China (population 1,353,821,000) over this?’

particularly when you consider how adept the Chinese are at just about everything they do. there is a Chinese copy of almost everything produced elsewhere in the world (and the look-a-likes look more like the real thing than the real thing does!!). on top of that, even the ‘real things’ are manufactured in China!

out_of_the_blue says:

What does "hack into" mean, anyway? ...

My bet is to use backdoors built into all current Windows, Apple, and Google OSs.

This is a typical “limited hangout” type of announcement that actually obscures the much more alarming point that the spyware that allows a gov’t “hack into” is ALREADY on “YOUR” computer. — You even PAID for it, suckers!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What does "hack into" mean, anyway? ...

I hate agreeing with OOTB, but this is actually correct: if you’re using Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. operating systems that you’re already compromised: it’s just a question of when someone will decide to avail themselves of the gaping security holes that you bought and paid for.

Your government (and other governments) thank you for self-funding the destruction of your own privacy and security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What does "hack into" mean, anyway? ...

Well, on Windows, they’re called “Outlook” and “Internet Explorer”. On Android, they’re called “apps”. On multiple operating systems, they’re called “Adobe Acrobat”. And so on.

By the way: http://it.slashdot.org/story/13/05/07/0226229/popular-android-anti-virus-software-fooled-by-trivial-techniques

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: What does "hack into" mean, anyway? ...

While you actually came up with a good point for once, yet again your moronic need to attack negates your point and rests on fiction. Why do you insist on acting like a child when mature conversation would be so much more effective?

“You even PAID for it, suckers!”

So did you, you drooling moron. Unless you’re a Linux/FreeBSD user, which given your usual level of technical knowledge displayed here, I seriously doubt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Child Pornography accusations are the new Communist accusation of our days, the new justification to use any force/means necessary to hunt down such people.

Want to ruin anyone’s reputation for life, just accuse them of being a child rapist and/or having child porn.

There was one church around where I live where one member there REALLY hated their church’s pastor. So he decided to get rid of him by getting him in jail for child pornography, by creating a new email address just to mail his pastor Child Porn. And THEN he called the police right away to report that his church’s pastor had child porn on his computer.

At first it worked for a day or two when the cops seized the pastor’s church issued laptop, with the reason why spreading all around the church that the pastor was into child porn/possibly raped kids. But then the cops traced the IP address to the guy who originally reported the crime and arrested him.

But even the police arresting the guy for trying to frame his pastor with possessing child pornography couldn’t save the pastor’s reputation. The church members STILL demanded his head, so the pastor was forced to ask a higher up person in the church hierarchy to assign him to a different church several hours away from that local community, since even with his innocence proven there was no salvaging his reputation there. He was quickly transferred to another church that never heard of the false accusations against him.

Angry dutch dude says:

It surprises me every time that this minister isn’t thrown to the side.
He has been working on limiting civil liberties for years now.
– Dutch ISP’s have to retain all data for 6 months. (Yes they can read your email)
– All data broadcasted is public, so police can listen in to you, but you are not allowed the same…(pretty much all cell-phone calls and the locations of your phone at all times)
– The use of software to monitor (civilian) computers (sort of trojan software)
– All citizens need to carry ID all the time. It is against the law to go outside your house without an ID card. Reminds me of the nazis and their “ausweis”

and now he wants to break in to computers in other countries and take away everybody’s right to stay silent.

It’s all so incredibly stupid and unconstitutional. I hope the EU steps in and prevents this…..

Could someone please find some proof of his misconduct in the IRT affair so I can be rid of his crazy right-wing BS ?
(He oversaw the special police unit that smuggled in tons of dope, under the pretence of catching a criminal organization that didn’t exist anymore)

PS : it’s the same minister that wanted to start prosecuting downloaders, but that plan was shot down by pretty much all the other political parties.

I WANT MY FREE NETHERLANDS BACK !
F*ck this police state that opstelten en teeuwen are making it into.

Anonymous Coward says:

Children of the Porn

Thank you for bringing this to my attention

I had no idea that Dutch children downloading porn was such a problem.
Here in merika kids download porn all the time and they’re doing OK.

Can someone please explain just how the Dutch kids are using their porn to terrorize people.I mean are they using naked purple dinosaurs or something?

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