Only 10% can separate fact from fiction.
The Intelligence and Security Services Act 2017 (in Dutch: WIV) has been a topic of frequent debate, but very few people know what the law is about. That much has become apparent from the WIV fact checker by Fox-IT. The site attracted over 8000 visitors in recent weeks, and 3700 of those people filled out the entire online quiz, right down to the last question. Only 10% of those 3700 people turned out to be able to answer all the questions correctly. 28% had one of the six questions wrong. Fox-IT launched the fact checker with the aim of informing voters about the technical side of what has been referred to as the ‘dragnet law’.
The website consists of six statements that could be marked correct or incorrect. The third statement of those six yielded the most discussion, both online and within Fox-IT. The statement is: “Neighbourhoods are cities are tapped by the national intelligence services on the basis of the Intelligence and Security Services Act 2017 (WIV).” This blog post on the website provides more explanation about the statement. Despite the discussion that this statement prompted, it is interesting to note that visitors to the site did not answer incorrectly much more often than the other statements.
Another point raised in the online discussion was the role that Fox-IT plays in the public debate and the possible interests that Fox-IT might have in implementation of the new law. Our CSR policy includes an extensive explanation of the position Fox-IT takes regarding such topics as privacy and the abuse of technology, as well as the use of mass surveillance.
The WIV fact checker provided by Fox-IT at ‘overdeWIV.nl’ highlights one aspect of the exceptional power for ‘investigation of communications’: interception undertaken in connection with an investigation assignment, or ‘OOG interception’. This hotly debated aspect of the law is also known informally as the dragnet. Over the past few weeks, Fox-IT issued a call to its extended network, online and via social media, for people to visit the fact checker and find out more about the Intelligence and Security Services Act 2017. For that reason, these figures are probably not representative for the entire Dutch population. It is striking to see that so few people (10%) were able to answer all the questions correctly, even among the more technically savvy target audience reached by Fox-IT.
Besides the WIV fact checker, initiatives have been developed by various other parties in the context of the referendum, such as blogs, podcasts, background articles, websites and live debates. Fox-IT applauds the fact that a topic so closely related to ‘a more secure society’ is being discussed in such extensive detail. The Intelligence and Security Services Act 2017 is a complex piece of legislation involving a technology component. The various initiatives have kicked off a good discussion about the law and prompted voters to read about it, so they could separate fact from fiction. The fact checker will stay online until the referendum on 21 March, so everyone who does not feel they know enough about the technology behind the law can check their information here.