The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment denies spying on the Dutch news agency GPD (Geassocieerde Pers Diensten), a joint news service run by 17 regional newspapers.
The ministry has had access to a database with unpublished articles and a agenda with scheduled activities since July last year, the news agency disclosed yesterday. This sparked outrage among Dutch journalists, who demanded a full investigation into this assault on the freedom of the press. “We are being spied on by our own government,” GPD editor-at-large Marcel van Lingen lamented in a statement.
However, the incident swiftly turned into a storm in a tea cup, when the Ministry revealed that the account was used by just one person at its communications department, a former GPD journalist, who apparently still had access to the database.
The former employee looked at more than 300 unpublished articles, most about social issues. Often, he would communicate his inside knowledge to GPD journalists, who became increasingly suspicious and ultimately started an investigation.
GPD had to admit it did a lazy job of securing its editorial system by not regularly changing or disabling its passwords. ®