• Switzerland's news in English

Justice minister wants more internet monitoring

Kyle James · 28 Jul 2011, 12:31

Published: 28 Jul 2011 14:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Jul 2011 12:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga wants to expand the government's ability to monitor people's online activities. The plans have been harshly criticized by other politicians and the internet sector.


Sommaruga would like to amend Switzerland's Post and Telephone Monitoring Act (VÜPF), according to the Thursday edition of the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. The act allows authorities to listen in on telephone conversations and e-mail communications when the government feels it is justified.

But if the justice minister has her way, telecoms companies and internet service providers would be able, if asked by the government, to follow all the online activities of a suspected person in real time, meaning they could virtually look over someone's shoulder as he or she chatted online, performed a Google search or watched a video on YouTube.

In the wake of the killings in Norway, several European governments have expressed the desire to toughen up their own Internet surveillance rules. But in the Swiss case, Sommaruga unveiled her plan in June, weeks before Anders Behring Breivik massacred around 76 mostly young people.

The plans have been met with widespread condemnation and critics say it is unclear under what circumstances the government would be authorized to start closely monitoring a person's internet use.

"This decree massively expands surveillance capabilities but doesn't say a word about privacy protection," Andreas Hugi, spokesman of the ICT Internet and telecoms association, told the Tages-Anzeiger.

Politicians have expressed concerns that Sommaruga wants to amend the law by decree, thereby bypassing parliament and debate.

"Sommaruga's methods here are extremely questionable from a constitutional perspective," FDP politician Ruedi Noser said, adding that parliament had recently spoken out against increasing the government's internet monitoring ability.

In 2009, the Swiss parliament rejected a government drive to toughen up monitoring rules, saying it violated the constitution. Then, in 2010, a new amendment plan put forward by Bern was met with a hailstorm of criticism.


Kyle James (news@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available