Following the acceptance of a legislative proposal by the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament on April 3, 2003, the powers of the public prosecutor and criminal investigators to request traffic data and user data from the providers of public telecommunications networks and services will be extended. The legislative proposal has been sent to the Upper House.

With respect to traffic data, the proposal is to enhance powers which currently exist. A press release issued by the Ministry of Justice states that these enhanced powers are essential for investigation purposes. The enhanced powers will enable the Public Prosecutions Department (“Openbaar Ministerie”) to obtain information about the behaviour and contact patterns of relevant telecommunications users (which will include, but not be limited to, suspected criminals). The traffic data may include the timing and length of conversations, telephone numbers called, location data and equipment used and so on. Under the proposal, the public prosecutor will be able to utilise these powers if a crime carrying a prison sentence of at least four years is being investigated, or where serious organised crime is investigated.

With respect to user data, the legislative proposal includes new powers for public prosecutors and criminal investigators. These new powers will enable prosecutors and investigators to request Internet Service Providers and telecommunications operators to supply data on unidentified users. The service providers will have to provide information such as name, address, post code, telephone numbers and the category of services provided to the users concerned. According to the Ministry, this user data is also essential for investigation purposes, particularly in cases where only the telephone number or e-mail address of a specific suspect is known. In such cases the investigator will have the power to request the user data necessary to identify the user concerned.

These new powers are to be utilised if a crime is suspected, when organised crimes which constitute a serious violation of legal order are investigated, or in the event of a so-called “preliminary investigation”, i.e., an investigation into certain sectors to identify whether there are indications that serious crimes are being planned or committed within these sectors.

This short article has been published in World Internet Law Report, (ISSN 1740-5386) Vol. 4 Issue 4, April 2003, p. 27

Important - The information in this article is provided subject to the disclaimer. The law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.