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Dutch cabinet to expand digital warfare

The Dutch government is going to expand the army’s digital warfare capabilities, especially for offensive purposes, the cabinet says in a letter addressed to parliament.

The letter has been drafted in response to recommendations made by the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) and the Advisory Committee regarding International Law (CAVV). The cabinet says it regards the recommendations as a complement to the National Cyber Security Strategy. Mounting digital threats, it added, require an integrated approach in which the public and private sectors should cooperate.

The government says that while it sees no need to seek a new global cyber treaty, it is cooperating with several countries in this area. It does call, however, for an EU-wide approach to tackle the digital threat. The government also suggests it will seek to expand its offensive digital capability within NATO. Espionage, sabotage, crime and terrorism carried out via digital platforms are a direct threat to our national security, the letter states.

Digital systems, the cabinet expects, will play a key role in any future conflict, not just because our own networks are vulnerable but also those of potential enemies. At the same time, a purely digital war without any physical conflict is highly unlikely, the government claims.

The cabinet says it is engaged in bilateral talks with the United States, Britain, Germany, Australia, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is studying to step up its cooperation with Scandinavian countries, Canada and France.

The letter emphasizes that cooperation with companies and universities is essential to enlist the help of a small group of specialists. In 2013 the government will set up a Defensive Cyber Expertise Centre (DCEC), and the year after a Defensive Cyber Command (DCC).