Dutch Police expected to check 300.000 Internet-users in 2004

Internet Brigade gets fit for fighting Cyber Crime

Dutch Internet providers expect that in the year 2004 law enforcement agencies will be asking information on the name, address and living place of 300.000 Internet users. These figures are mentioned in an internal document of the Dutch organisation for Internet providers NLIP, that has been published at www.opentap.org.

According to the same figures the providers expect in 2004 to get interception orders for 0,15% of their users, that is 9000 interception orders. In 2003 the total amount of interception orders will be 4500. The document stipulates there will be a huge increase in law enforcement's requests for data on user accounts: from 90.000 in 1993, to 300.000 in 1994, which is 5% of the total Internet users.

The director of the NLIP, Hans Leemans, told Webwereld that although the figures are an 'assumption', he thinks it's a 'realistic assumption'. The NLIP has based the figures on the rise in interception orders for telephones. In 1998 law enforcement ordered 10.000 telephone interception orders, and about 100.000 information requests on the users of telephone accounts. 'If we compare these figures with the use of Internet, we come at the figures for Internet interception mentioned in our analysis. We also expect law enforcement to use more frequent interception orders, as other means of investigative techniques have been restricted by law since the scandal on the use of unlawful investigative techniques in the Netherlands.'

The figures on expected interception orders were circulated in the National Interception Consultations NAO. Since April of this year, Dutch Internet providers are under the obligation to implement interception orders. They founded an organisation, called the National Control Organisation for Internet providers, which will function as a liaison between the law enforcement agencies and the providers. The organisation will check the legitimacy and feasibility of interception orders, help the providers with the interception and the handling of the intercepted communication to the law enforcement agencies and will handle the billing of the interception orders. Providers have to pay 10 euro cent the user as contribution.

More resources for fighting cyber crime

Dutch law enforcement is stepping up its efforts to combat cybercrime. In July the police announced every regional police force will be training their detectives in digital investigative techniques. More ICT-specialist and external experts will be recruited. Specialised digital detectives will join national and international investigative teams.

Since July also the 'national action program digital investigations' has started, with a budget of 1.4 million euro. Law enforcement states it needs 30 million euro a year to intensify the battle against cybercrime.

The special Internet Brigade of the national police force will get more resources. According to Dutch legislation, the brigade is allowed to infiltrate newsgroups and to systematically gather information about people (in a newsgroup, for example). Pseudo-purchasing and service providing (front stores) on the Internet are also permitted, as are "scouting" research, or so-called pro-active investigation on the Internet. The latter concerns investigating "a group of people, in order to determine how crimes that seriously affect public order are devised and executed". According to the bill, which regulates the powers of the police, it would be "conceivable" to subject certain sections of the Internet community to such exploratory investigation.

A 1997 memorandum from the Central Investigative Information Centre CRI reveals police attitudes towards digital research. The Internet is regarded as being a good "open source" for gaining information for so-called phenomenon investigation. Phenomenon investigation is pro-active investigation, aimed at mapping out certain developments, organisations and people, without actually investigating a specific, punishable crime. Its about expanding the polices' general knowledge (gaining of insights into new phenomena for literary studies or strategic analyses), data surveillance (the pro-active phase in which "material experts" search the Internet for information about certain themes, companies and people) and the investigative phase (using investigative powers to trace and prosecute people).

Due to their limited capacities, the Internet Brigade could only investigate on a structural base child pornography. From time to time they investigated special subjects, like the activities of suspected hooligans during the Euro 2000 championship.

The Internet Brigade is now getting the resources to investigate, besides child pornography, on a structural base drug crime. In the future, the brigade must have the capacity to monitor 4 or 5 subjects at the same time. According to the minister of Justice Benk Korthals, these subjects will be credit card fraud, trade in false documents, illegal gambling and the selling of medicines. (Jelle van Buuren)