Questions about scope and supervision during ‘hacking proposal’ debate in the Senate

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The Senate on Tuesday discussed the Computer Crime III Bill, also known as the ‘hacking proposal’, because it gives the police the power to penetrate systems. The parties raised questions about the scope of the law, oversight and vulnerabilities.

Various parties, including D66, PVV, GroenLinks and SP, asked questions about the possibility of extending the law to other crimes with a so-called order in council, or order in council. The government can draw this up. For example, the current bill makes it possible to use the hacking powers in crimes for which a minimum prison sentence of eight years applies. This category can therefore be expanded with an order in council, which, according to the parties, makes it unclear in which cases the power can be used.

According to the SP, the bill has become ‘a monster law’. For example, the need for the law would be clear, but the processing would take a long time due to controversial parts. The VVD also notes the long duration of 2.5 years after the proposal was submitted. The party says it is positive about the guarantees in the law and furthermore mainly asked questions about the prevention of damage to third parties through the use of the hacking power, for example at organizations that provide critical services.

The parties also paid attention to reporting unknown vulnerabilities. Earlier it appeared that the police may not purchase unknown vulnerabilities under the new law, but that software may be purchased that uses such vulnerabilities for its operation. Reporting unknown vulnerabilities, which according to the proposal is required and can be postponed by the public prosecutor, would therefore be a ‘dead letter’, according to GroenLinks. The PVV sees nothing in a reporting obligation.

Supervision of the implementation of the new powers in the law was also reviewed. For example, the PvdA called for ‘critical and independent supervision’ and an earlier evaluation of the law after two to three years. GroenLinks wants retrospective supervision for all ‘hacking actions’ and the CDA also wanted to know from the minister how he intends to strengthen supervision.

The first part of the discussion of the law gave parties the opportunity to put questions to Minister Grapperhaus of Justice and Security. The answers will follow later. The Computer Crime III Bill was submitted to the House of Representatives at the end of 2015. He then agreed a year later. Since then, the law has been with the Senate, which has yet to vote on it. Experts have already been discussed in this Chamber before.

In addition to the police powers to hack, the law also deals with many other matters, such as making data inaccessible. According to the law, police officers can also be used as ‘lure teenagers’ to track down people who contact minors via the internet. In addition, trading in stolen data is punishable by law.

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