New Swiss law to keep watchful eye on citizens
PRIVACY versus security: It’s a tension confronting democracies the world over, with Swiss voters facing their own test.
Switzerland’s security services currently have limited investigative powers compared to other developed countries: Phone tapping and email surveillance are banned, regardless of the circumstances.
But a new law proposed by the government seeks to change that. Polls say it will pass with support from 53 to 58 percent of voters.
Swiss Defence Minister Guy Parmelin insisted the wealthy Alpine nation was not aiming to set up a vast datagathering apparatus similar to the one developed by the US National Intelligence Agency.
“With this law, we’re leaving the basement and coming up to the ground floor by international standards,” Mr Parmelin said.
“We shouldn’t compare this proposal to other major powers who have considerable means but go well beyond what is desired in terms of individual liberty ... and security for our citizens.”
Phone or electronic surveillance of a suspect could only be triggered with approval by a federal court, the defence ministry and the cabinet, according to the law. Bern has said these measures would be used only a dozen times a year to monitor only the highest-priority suspects, especially those implicated in terrorism.
The law was approved by parliament in 2015, but an alliance of opponents, including from the Socialist and Green parties, got enough signatures to force a referendum. –