Like rebellious drivers everywhere, Swiss motorists have been using the internet to stay ahead of the police. Facebook group ‘Mobile radar reports: Switzerland’ has about 14,000 users. But a new law passed this week by the Swiss parliament will make it illegal to share information online about the location of speed cameras.
With 91 votes in favour and 72 against, the National Council approved the ban on speed camera warnings. The ban will come into effect in 2013 at the earliest.
According to socialist Edith Graf-Litscher, the spokeswoman for the national commission that proposed the ban, individuals will still be allowed to warn each other about cameras, but it will be illegal to make a public announcement on the subject on Facebook or Twitter.
Both the Swiss People’s Party and the Radical Party rejected the ban.
“This is a totally disproportionate decision,” said Radical Party councillor Markus Hutter, pointing out that even the police erect speed camera warning signs and that GPS navigation systems often alert drivers when they are approaching cameras.
“The ban is not feasible,” Hutter told Tages Anzeiger. “How can they ban warnings on the internet?” he wondered.
Graf-Litscher said the law would even prevent people with lots of friends from posting information about the cameras on their private Facebook accounts:
“It depends on how many Facebook friends someone has,” explained Graf-Litscher to the Zurich paper. “With two it is probably ok, but not so much with 1,000 friends,” she added.
Graf-Litscher said courts will have to decide the details of how the law is applied. Newspaper Tages Anzeiger writes that “apparently, Parliament has approved a ban without knowing exactly what it implies.”
Martin Steiger, a lawyer specialised on internet issues, says that if Parliament wants to ban public warnings, “they would have to prohibit the internet everywhere” and underlines that the proposed law contains “considerable legal uncertainty.”
The administrator of the Facebook group considers the decision of Parliament “ridiculous and unfeasible.” The man, who asked Tages Anzeiger to remain anonymous, says that if his speed cameras warning page is banned, “someone will start a new group immediately.”