Do Dutch Spies Also Have Access To PRISM's Data? And If So, Who Else Does?

from the clear-as-mud dept

In the wake of the leaks about NSA’s spying activities around the world, one of the interesting subsidiary questions is: who else had access to this stuff? We know that the UK did, and now there are indications the Dutch did as well, according to this report on DutchNews.nl:

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten on Tuesday refused to comment on claims the Dutch security service AIVD works together with the US secret services in collecting information from email and social media traffic.

Dutch security service AIVD has also received information on email and social media traffic via US spy system PRISM, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.

Some pretty dramatic claims are being made:

If the AIVD lists an American address as suspicious, it is supplied all the information within five minutes, a source told the paper. The source worked for the department which monitored potential Dutch Muslim extremists, the paper said.

Dutch companies also cooperated with the US authorities’ request for information, the source said, claiming that ‘there are agents ready to deal with requests for information inside companies and institutions.’

‘There are a couple of those secret programmes like Prism active in the Netherlands,’ the source is quoted as saying.

There are a few points to note here. First, this is a report about a story in the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf, which draws on unnamed sources. So the chain of information is quite long, and it’s likely that details have been lost or mischaracterized along the way. It’s also worth noting that PRISM is not the only system mentioned here for gleaning information about people. That’s probably muddying the waters yet more, as sources reveal tantalizing information about other spying initiatives that then get subsumed under the general heading of PRISM, simply because it’s in the headlines at the moment.

That’s not to minimize the shocking nature of these revelations — the idea that spies around the world may be accessing within minutes any private information they want, is troubling — merely to note that the picture we have of what is going on remains frustratingly vague. And that, of course, is an argument for more transparency from the authorities, both in the US and elsewhere, about what is really happening to our personal information when we go online, and who has access to it.

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Comments on “Do Dutch Spies Also Have Access To PRISM's Data? And If So, Who Else Does?”

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23 Comments
QW (user link) says:

OK, so also the Dutch.

So it’s starting to look like there’s a giant old boys club of supercitizens in multiple countries who can access any information about any person in the world, and the major spy agencies are in cahoots to greater or lesser extents.

Regardless of whether or not an agency based in my country should be able to access information on me, which is in itself a can of worms, at what point does it become OK for my government to participate in sharing potentially damaging information about me with foreign intelligence agencies?

Surely that’s the opposite of what intelligence agencies are for? Surely that’s the opposite of what governments are for?

Anonymous Coward says:

If you allow your agencies to spy without real oversight on anyone outside of your country, you allow them to spy without real oversight on anyone within it. Of course they will be working together (last time I checked we were allies).

As someone from the Netherlands, I have been quite annoyed about how much of the rage wasn’t the warrantless spying in itself, but the warrantless spying on own citizens, as if the distinction matters. As if that’s even possible on the Internet.

One thing that also occurred to me while I saw Opstelten on the news here, explaining that he wasn’t going to tell anyone how our intelligence agency did its work, is that he does in fact realize why privacy is important. He just gives it to the wrong people.

Anonymous Coward says:

i believe there are multiple countries in on this. it shows how underhanded everywhere has become because of, mainly i believe, 9/11. that was a horrendous happening and i would hate for that to happen again, anywhere, but to spy on, basically, the whole world ‘in case something is afoot’? that’s going well OTT. i am sure there would be some sort of information gathered from somewhere, sometime, that would hint of terrorist intentions. spying on the citizens is a bad move! it is easy to do, especially when it’s done underhanded but far from ‘the right thing’. the people become more scared of their own government than anyone else. unless, of course, that is the world master plan? i would guess that people would rather be free and die younger than be slaves and live longer

Anonymous Coward says:

This is great news for the Chinese/Iranians/etc.

The more people in more intelligence agencies who have access to this information, the higher the probability that one of them is not actually working for the intelligence agency that thinks they are.

Or to put it another way, if the NSA’s goal was to assure that the enemies of the United States get their hands on valuable intelligence without having to do very much work, then sharing it with the UK and the Dutch and the […] is a wonderful idea.

Corwin (profile) says:

Why is there no public interface?

And I mean PUBLIC.

I’m completely prepared to give up my privacy entirely, but I want EVERYONE ELSE’S in exchange.

There is nobody on earth whose privacy is worth more than the sum total of the data about what everyone else is doing.

And there still are hiding places, if you really need secrecy, as in “distributed database in the form of a blockchain, with homomorphic encryption on all data, connected by a PEER-to-PEER, onion-routed mesh network”.

Baldwin3 says:

…shows how easy it is for NSA to get around the illegalities of U.S. “Domestic Spying”.

NSA simply gives the Dutch or British spy agencies access to the full content of American citizen telephone/email/internet data that NSA collects. Those foreign agencies then data-mine ‘everything’ on Americans… and quickly give it back to the NSA — but officially labeled by NSA as Dutch/British “Foreign Intelligence” shared with the U.S. government under longstanding allies agreements.

Essentially NSA “launders” its domestic spying output… thru friendly foreign spy agencies. There’s no U.S. law enforceable against the Dutch/British spying on Americans.

So NSA gets “deniability” — “…hey, our Dutch friends are simply sharing their intelligence with us … what’s wrong with that ? “

Bergman (profile) says:

Wait, so if a US citizen leaks confidential data to his fellow US citizens, he has committed espionage and treason by giving that data to enemies of the United States…

But if he were to give that confidential data to a foreign intelligence service, spies employed by a foreign nation, it’s not only not espionage, it’s just business as usual, part of the job?!?

Has it never occurred to anyone in our government that those foreign nations are sovereign, and free to do whatever they want with that data whether the US government likes it or not? That those nations often are friendly with nations that are our deadly enemies?

This is utter madness!

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