In a judgement handed down on July 14th but made public on Wednesday, the Federal Court ruled that there was no legal basis to carry out surveillance on a man who was receiving disability benefit.
The court took the same stance as the European Court of Human Rights which in October 2016 had ruled similarly in another case involving Swiss accident insurance.
In this case the Swiss court said the legal situation regarding disability insurance was the same as that of accident insurance, and therefore it would follow the ECHR's precedent.
As a result, the federal social security office ordered every IV/AI office to cease all current surveillance activity and refrain from instigating further spying, the Swiss government said in a statement on Wednesday.
The court also examined the legality of using evidence already gathered in past surveillance operations.
Taking into consideration the public interest in preventing benefit abuse, it judged that such evidence can be used if the person was only observed in public places, if the surveillance was carried out on the basis of concrete suspicions and the person was not placed under constant or systematic observation.
However, the suspension of surveillance activity may not last very long.
The Swiss parliament is currently considering a revision to its social security laws which will include a new disposition explicitly allowing surveillance on disability insurance claimants.