Constitution to extend protection to e-mails

All forms of communication - including digital communication - are to be protected under the Constitution. The privacy of correspondence and the privacy of the telephone and telegraph will be replaced by the privacy of correspondence and telecommunication.

This is specified in the bill to amend article 13 of the Constitution, approved by the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom on the recommendation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, and Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten.

The amendment has arisen from the government's response to an advisory report by the National Commission on the Review of the Constitution. The term 'telegraph' is outdated. When drafting the new bill the conscious decision was made not to mention any 1 specific form of technology. Instead, using the non-specific phrase 'privacy of correspondence and telecommunication' will extend the protection offered by article 13 of the Constitution to all current and future means of communication such as e-mail, internet phone calls and private messaging through social media.

This means that the government will have no access to the content of communications, regardless of the medium used. A number of exceptions to this are laid down in law. In certain situations, for example, the police or the intelligence services may be allowed access, provided that permission is given by the competent authorities.

The Council of Ministers for the Kingdom has consented to the bill being submitted to the House of Representatives.

The bill has already been open to public consultation via the internet.