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Dutch data rules slammed by lawyers

More countries in the EU are standing up to excessive data surveillance on the Internet, with the Netherlands becoming the latest to lead court action.

The country’s criminal lawyers association (known as the NVSA) has joined together with Privacy First, the Dutch Association of Journalists and NDP New Media among others.

The group has formed in response to government policy that necessitates the recording of people’s phone calls and Internet browsing habits.

Currently the Dutch government enforces a 12 month retention of data from telephone calls, and six months of retention for Internet traffic, including e-mails and IP addresses. The NVSA are insisting that the government scrap these laws as they are now unconstitutional.

The EU Court of Justice ruled in April that Europe’s data retention scheme, in which people’s online past could be kept for two years, was invalid. At the time the court in Luxembourg ruled that “[data retention] interferes with the fundamental rights to respect private life and to the protection of personal data”.

The EU court has since labelled the previous retention laws as failures to “safeguard the abuse” of citizens’ private lives and that it made people feel “unnecessarily watched”.

The Dutch government insists that tweaks they made to the law have kept them in line with the current EU policy. Foundation program Bits of Freedom has disputed this, claiming that all data retention in the country violates the new EU constitution.

Previously the country’s government used such retention in order to crack down on an illegal drugs and weapons marketplace Utopia.