The new law on intelligence and security services is an “important step forward” for the operation of the State Security Service, said its administrator-general, Jaak Raes, and the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, on Tuesday. Last year, intelligence services used 1,747 specific and exceptional methods of data collection (MRD), including telephone tapping, compared with 1,271 in 2015. This upward trend is expected to continue with the use of new methods.
The MRD or BIM law (Special Information Gathering Methods) of 30 March 2017, in force since last May, has broadened the powers of the State Security Service, which collects information on activities likely to threaten the country’s security. Its agents can now use false identities during their intelligence work, hack computers, collaborate with transport and travel companies, inspect vehicles in the absence of owners and open postal parcels.
These methods of collecting data are no longer limited to the fight against terrorism but also apply to cases of extremism. “The new law is essential for our intelligence services to have the necessary capability to fight extremism and terrorism while respecting our fundamental rights and values”, said Koen Geens. “It has already demonstrated its usefulness.”
These adaptations constitute “a significant improvement” for the intelligence service, confirms Jaak Raes. “The State Security Service can work faster and more efficiently. The law meets our needs on the ground.”
Since 2010, the State Security Service may collect information using ordinary, specific or exceptional methods, depending on the degree of intrusion into private life. It obtains information from open sources by contacting the police but also by requesting information from telecommunications operators or by means of telephone tapping.