Supervisor: AIVD illegally emptied large web forums – update

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The AIVD has acted unlawfully in a number of cases when accessing large general web forums, the regulator Ctivd ruled in an investigation report.

In five operations in which the entire data collection from large web forums was downloaded by the AIVD, the service should not have been given permission because the motivation was insufficient, the Ctivd concluded after an investigation, while in another four cases the emptying was disproportionate. In all cases, therefore, the operations were illegal. It is not known which web forums are involved.

The AIVD was discredited last year after Snowden documents showed that the service breaks into internet forums and collects the data of all users. The espionage service defended itself by declaring that web forums are legitimate targets, invoking Article 24 of the Wi, which states that the AIVD may ‘intrude into automated work’. The Ctivd has now concluded that the intelligence service has indeed crossed the line.

“In most cases, however, the Commission is convinced that the acquisition of these web forums was necessary and fits within the service’s mission”, writes the Ctivd. In large, general web forums, stricter requirements would be imposed on the service: “In those cases, data is also collected from persons that are not relevant for the performance of tasks by the service.” The regulator describes that the ‘acquisition of the data collections’ is done with the help of a human source, a hack or a foreign service.

Dozens of intelligence operations were investigated from January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2014. The Ctivd has also discovered irregularities in other operations of the AIVD with regard to social media. Among other things, the service has not recorded enough data on actions, which makes it difficult to verify afterwards. For example, the Ctivd mentions four cases in which employees of the AIVD were active on social media under a virtual identity, where they had permission to commit criminal offences. “Now that the reporting is significantly deficient, the Commission is of the opinion that the implementation of the consent to commit criminal offenses is also unlawful,” the report said.

In general, the Ctivd paints a positive picture of the activities of the AIVD with regard to social media, Minister Plasterk of the Interior reports to the House of Representatives: The CTIVD also has no indications that the AIVD is circumventing its own powers when collaborating with foreign services.” He has requested the AIVD to take measures and tighten up procedures where necessary, which would have happened in the meantime.

Update, 15.30: Minister’s response to the House of Representatives added.

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