There has been some commotion last week, when the Dutch senate passed a bill giving intelligence services more power to watch electronic communications. They can now also tap communications from affiliates of suspects. To be honest; I think it is great to have this commotion.

In fact, there should be even more commotion around this bill. Finally people are waking up and realising what is been done with their data and online communications. For a long time people didn’t give any attention to this and to me it always felt wrong.

The most common reaction was always: “They can watch me if they want to, I have nothing to hide.” To which I then replied: “Well, give me your PIN number then.” Off course they wouldn’t, because ‘that’s private’. So you do have something to hide, then?

So I welcome the commotion, but I must say that the new bill isn’t that shocking. Most of the rules in it already exist. They are only being updated to current times. Ever since the former law passed in 2002, Internet Service Providers have systems in place that the intelligence service can use to tap communications for their subscribers. And the ISP’s are already obliged to update their IP address database daily, and send a list of it to the Centraal Informatiepunt Onderzoek Telecommunicatie (CIOT).

What is new, is the fact that the police and others can now get easier access to the data of people who are just affiliated with possible suspects in an investigation. Yes, they have to have a warrant signed by a judge in The Hague, but who says those applications will be a public record, especially if it is about a ‘matter of national security’? Different groups, like lawyers and journalists, are up in arms about this, because they feel it would give the intelligence services too much power. And frankly, I think they are right about that. It is no wonder they are preparing legal action.

All in all I am not really sure what to think about the new law. I don’t want the government checking all my online movements, but I also don’t want to endure a big terrorist attack, like we have seen too often recently.

I feel as if the intelligence community is at a loss at the moment. It feels like they have adopted the mantra “better too much data collection than too little.” We will just have to wait and see what is going to happen.

That people are becoming more and more aware of what is happening and therefore more vocal about their concerns, is a good thing. The more we know, the more we can hold the intelligence services accountable, and make sure that they do not cross that thin blue line.