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Netherlands to hold referendum on controversial law in March 2018

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Four months after the controversial referendum law was passed, the Netherlands is all set to hold a non-binding referendum in March 2018 over the legislation giving law enforcement authorities ‘mass-surveillance’ powers, the Dutch Voting Commission said on November 1, 2017.

As per a report published in Reuters, digital privacy advocates, activists, politicians, and media groups want to overturn the data-slurping “tapping law” which was passed by the Dutch Senate in July, after years of debate and allowed intelligence agencies to gather data en masse from large groups of people.

While emphasizing that the public referendum was ‘purely consultative’, the Dutch Electoral Council said that if more than 30 percent of the electorate vote in the favor and a majority oppose the law, the government would re-examine the proposal.

To hold the advisory referendum, the petition required at least 300,000 signatures to be submitted before the Voting Commission and the agency received more than 384,000 valid signatures. Now, the government is obliged to hold national referendum on March 21, 2018 along with the country’s municipal elections.

According to media reports, the controversial law may be repealed by the newly appointed government under Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The country’s opponents argued that the new law breaches civil liberties by granting authorities to tap into electronic communications of far more people.

This is not the first time when the Netherlands is forced to hold a referendum. In 2016, voters had rejected Dutch ratification of the European Union’s agreement with Ukraine.

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