In the Netherlands, a consultative referendum took place on Wednesday March 21 2018 with regard to the intelligence and security act (Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten, Wiv). This act is better known as the ‘Sleepwet’, which translates to English as the ‘trawling law’, i.e. non-selective sweeping. On March 29 2018, the final outcome of the referendum, announced by the National Electoral Council (Kiesraad centraal stembureau), confirmed that the majority voted against the act: 49,44% voted against, 46,53% voted in favor and 4,03% was blank.

The Sleepwet aims to extend the powers of the Dutch general safety and intelligence agency (Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, AIVD) and of the military intelligence and safety agency (Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, MIVD) allowing them to, inter alia, install wire taps targeting an entire geographic region or avenue of communication, as well as to store this information for up to three years, and to share it with allied spy agencies.

Whilst the law has already been approved by both houses of parliament, and despite the fact that the outcome of a consultative referendum is not binding, the Minister for internal affairs (Minister Ollongren) has announced to reconsider the Sleepwet and to welcome a debate with the Second Chamber in order to reevaluate the Sleepwet.

Several campaigns have made their voices heard with regard to potential privacy violations and have urged for significant improvements in the law.