New Swiss law to keep watch­ful eye on cit­i­zens

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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