Senate approves legislative proposal on Computer Crime III

The Senate has approved a legislative proposal aimed at bolstering efforts to identify and prosecute cyber crime. Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus: 'The range of tools at our disposal will have to be expanded for an effective response to technological developments. This proposal helps to equip investigators with the instruments that they need to fight crime in a digital world. Ultimately, this process will help to keep the Netherlands safer.' The new law is expected to come into effect on 1 January 2019.

The Senate has approved a legislative proposal aimed at bolstering efforts to identify and prosecute cyber crime. Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus: 'The range of tools at our disposal will have to be expanded for an effective response to technological developments. This proposal helps to equip investigators with the instruments that they need to fight crime in a digital world. Ultimately, this process will help to keep the Netherlands safer.' The new law is expected to come into effect on 1 January 2019.

As we know from experience, data decryption is becoming increasingly challenging. In addition to the availability of more advanced software, manufacturers themselves are also unable to decrypt information in some cases. This situation plays into the hands of criminals, who can shield their activities from the government with encryption tools. Anonymous Internet use makes it difficult to pinpoint the origins of specific communications or the locations at which data are stored. Grapperhaus: 'We must make sure that investigations into serious crime do not run aground. Investigative services must have the power to act, in the interests of broader society as well as individual victims or potential victims.'

To this end, police forces and prosecutors will be granted the power to access computers secretly and remotely (online) as part of their investigations. This authority extends to personal computers, mobile phones and servers. As a result, investigating officers will have the freedom that they need to apply various investigative tactics when dealing with serious crimes. They will be able to make certain data inaccessible, copy files and tap or observe communications.

These powers are subject to strict monitoring and supervision. For example, the use of these instruments is subject to extensive judicial review, both prior to application – authorisation from the supervisory judge – and by the presiding judge. Prior assessments will also be conducted by the Central Review Committee, an advisory body within the Public Prosecution Service. The Inspectorate of Security and Justice is charged with supervising the Public Prosecutor's order.

More protections also be put in place as well in order to safeguard minors and consumers. New provisions will allow for the use of 'decoy teens' in order to facilitate the identification and prosecution of 'groomers' who approach minors online for sexual purposes. Malicious online sellers who repeatedly offer goods or services which are never delivered can soon be prosecuted.

The purchase of stolen data will become punishable as a separate offence too. This criminalisation will also allow for prosecution in cases where it cannot be proven that an individual found to have stolen data has purchased them from another party. The new law will be evaluated in two years' time pursuant to the Coalition agreement.

Ministry responsible