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Bart Custers: 'NCTV cannot track citizens using fake accounts'

For years, the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) has collected and shared privacy-sensitive information about citizens. Experts say this is in breach of the law.

Bart Custers

The NCTV was set up in 2004 to coordinate the exchange of information between government agencies. It also makes its own analyses concerning national security and classifies various forms of activism and religious fundamentalism. But there are no clear rules about how far the NCTV can go in collecting information about persons and organisations.

An investigation by national newspaper NRC has revealed that employees with fake accounts on social media have been secretly following hundreds of political campaign leaders, religious leaders and left-wing and right-wing activists. Five data and privacy professors have responded critically. The Coordinator has no authority to follow citizens using fake accounts, says Professor of Law and Data Science Bart Custers in the NRC article (in Dutch). 'Using fake accounts is a form of undercover work. The NCTV does not have those powers. If unauthorized government authorities start tracking people, you end up with a police state.'

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