Dutch security service received information via Prism, claims former employee

More phones tapped per capita in Netherlands than in any other country

An allegation that the Dutch security service has regularly received and used intelligence based on private emails and social media postings gathered via the US internet spy programme, Prism, led to angry demands in parliament yesterday for immediate clarification.

The claim was made by a former employee of the domestic security service, AIVD, who said the surveillance programme also gave the Dutch authorities confidential information “mined” from video conferencing, voice chats, stored data and photos, as well as phone records and computer log-in times.

The source, who worked with the AIVD department that monitors suspected Islamic extremists, said listing an internet address as “suspicious” – especially if it was a US address – could lead to detailed information from Prism being supplied immediately, sometimes within five minutes.

"There are a couple of secret programmes like Prism currently active in the Netherlands," the unnamed source told De Telegraaf newspaper, fuelling claims by lobby groups such as Bits of Freedom that phone and internet monitoring is much more widespread than generally realised.


Despite its liberalism on social issues, the Netherlands sanctions more phone taps per head of population than any other country in the world. The department of justice authorised 26,425 taps in 2008, the last year for which full figures are available.

Meanwhile in Strasbourg MEPs yesterday criticised “ a secret US programme” to gather data on internet users claiming it had implications for privacy, data protection and EU-US security collaboration. Tonio Borg, commissioner for health and consumer policy, said the laws on which such programmes are authorised “potentially endanger the fundamental right to privacy and to data protection of EU citizens”. The commission is to raise the issue at the EU-US ministerial meeting in Dublin on Friday, Mr Borg said.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court