The article in “Le Temps” (read it here) reveals a disturbing reality: the Swiss government’s promises not to monitor its citizens’ communications have been broken. According to an investigation by Republik, since the Intelligence Act was passed in 2016, communications surveillance in Switzerland has been more invasive than initially communicated. This finding raises serious questions about the security of the data collected, particularly in light of recent cyber attacks affecting other Swiss institutions.
Data security is a major concern. With hacking incidents affecting Swiss entities such as the police and the Air Force, it has become imperative to ensure that information gathered by intelligence services is not vulnerable to theft or exploitation by external actors. It is essential to reassure citizens on this point.
Another worrying aspect is the possibility that the Swiss intelligence services could compromise the security of communications. Deliberately weakening encryption to facilitate espionage could not only expose citizens to abusive surveillance, but also make them more vulnerable to cyber attacks. It is essential to examine whether the measures taken by intelligence services to access communications do not jeopardise their overall security.
Finally, the control mechanisms currently in place, which are mainly administrative and procedural, seem insufficient to prevent abuse of power by the intelligence services. More rigorous controls, based on technological or even mathematical principles, could provide more balanced and transparent oversight. This strengthening of controls is necessary to limit the risks of abuse and strengthen public confidence in intelligence operations.
What is at stake in this situation in Switzerland goes beyond national borders, as it raises fundamental questions about the balance between security and privacy in the digital age. These concerns are universal and require sustained public attention and debate.
As Bruce Schneier has said: “It is bad public hygiene to install technologies that could one day facilitate a police state”.