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?