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.

 

"/> 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.

 

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Justice minister wants more internet monitoring

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

Swiss woman indicted over ‘jihadist knife attack’ in department store

Swiss prosecutors said Wednesday they had indicted a woman for attempted murder on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group over a brutal knife attack in November 2020.

Swiss woman indicted over 'jihadist knife attack' in department store

The 29-year-old unnamed woman allegedly attacked two women in a department store in the southern city of Lugano.

She has been charged with attempted murder and violating laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related groups, according to the indictment.

She was also charged with unlawful prostitution.

EXPLAINED: Does Switzerland face a threat from terrorism?

The attorney general’s office said the indictment related to a “jihadist knife attack” and the alleged assailant, a Swiss citizen, “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS.”

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness. She brutally attacked her randomly-selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’,” it said.

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries while the second victim, with help from others at the scene, managed to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

The attacker was arrested and detained. Police quickly discovered she had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

The woman had formed a relationship on social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria and attempted to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, police alleged at the time.

She was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, they said, adding that the woman had suffered from mental health problems and been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.

SHOW COMMENTS