Netherlands Orders Israeli Spy System ahead of Legal Change
THE HAGUE, 12/11/13 - The Dutch intelligence services have ordered systems to enable them to receive and process telephone and Internet traffic on a large scale, even though this is currently largely illegal.
The project, code-named ArgoII, is intended to process information from communications channels for intelligence from 2014. The new equipment will be used by both the AIVD domestic security service and the MIVD military service.
The system will likely be built by the Israeli Nice Systems, which specialises in surveillance and eavesdropping software. This company, which according to US espionage specialist James Bamford has its roots in the Mossad, was one of the two companies that competed in a public tender. The other, Accenture, has told Vrij Nederland weekly it did not win the contract.
From the description by the defence ministry, it appears that ArgoII is primarily intended to cover ‘the world of the Internet protocol – where the services currently cannot get in. The ministry thus appears to be moving ahead in anticipation of a hoped-for change in the law, while the debate in parliament is yet to come.
The unfocussed vacuuming up of data for subsequent fully-automatic regurgitation is currently only allowed in the Netherlands for ‘non-cable-linked communication,” which amounts to satellite traffic. The bulk of the communication currently runs via cables, which cannot according to the law be subject to wholesale tapping.
The supervisor commission on the intelligence services (CTIVD) does in fact consider it understandable for the services to anticipate a change in the law In an interview with De Volkskrant newspaper on Monday, CTIVD chairman Bert van Delden said he expects an advisory commission to urge a relaxation of the law involved this December.
The defence ministry gives no information about the tender. According to De Volkskrant, ArgoII involves an investment of 17 million euros.