THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An advisory referendum will be held in the Netherlands next year on a law giving intelligence agencies sweeping new powers to tap electronic communications, the Dutch electoral commission announced Wednesday.
The commission said that 384,126 citizens signed a valid request for the referendum, easily surpassing the 300,000 threshold necessary to put the new law to a public vote. The referendum will likely be held March 21 next year at the same time as municipal elections.
However, some government lawmakers have said this week they plan to push ahead with the law, which has yet to come into force, arguing that it helps intelligence agencies in their counterterrorism efforts.
Opponents argue that the new law — which has been approved by both houses of the Dutch parliament — breaches civil liberties by granting authorities a virtual “dragnet” to tap into electronic communications of far more people than only terror suspects or threats to national security.
It will be the second time the Netherlands has held such a referendum. Last year, voters rejected Dutch ratification of a European Union pact with Ukraine.
The government signed off on the pact anyway after gaining written assurances that were intended to address voters’ fears, including that it could lead to EU membership for Ukraine.