In an effort to clamp down on terrorism Swiss voters endorsed a new law that allows Swiss secret intelligence to tap phone and cyberspace activities. This comes after a recent surge in terrorists’ activities in both France and Brussels.
According to the law, surveillance systems will monitor questionable activity, 66.5% of voters in Switzerland endorsed the new law agreeing with its terms and conditions. Nevertheless critics fear that the law would impugn on citizens rights and warn of arbitrary surveillance.
The law will come into effect in September 2017 and would give parliament strict control. Swiss defence minister Guy Parmelin welcomed the results of the poll and said that the law will provide Switzerland with modern tools to respond to current security threats.
In a press conference in Switzerland Parmelin said that the defence ministry will evaluate new technological equipment and tools, and that the ministry would hire additional staff to care for the task.
Cyber security surveillance allows governments to monitor threats and prevent and investigate criminal activity. Many governmental authorities have the ability to monitor activities of citizens given the global increase of terrorism.
Civil rights advocates and privacy groups argue that increased surveillance will only lead to a mass surveillance society with limited or no political or personal freedom at all.
Swiss political Scientist Claude Longchamp said that the vote in Switzerland was merely the result of confidence in the government and not an agreement with the powers of the secret service.
The alliance of the Swiss civil society group along with leftwing parties also reiterated the fact the citizens would be at risk if the defence ministry is given more surveillance power.
Opponents of the law fear that mass gathering of information and data would eventually lead to a ‘Big Brother,’ surveillance system and wreak havoc on society similar to the scandal at the 1989 Cold War era.
Since the secret service will be able to bug private phone lines and wiretap computers, a growing number of people are saying that additional measures are needed to fight terrorism. Nevertheless the Swiss government is reiterating the fact that several measures are employed to combat terrorism already.
Defence minister Parmelin said that those new surveillance mechanisms would make Switzerland less dependant on information exchange with foreign secret service, and at the same time it would enable the country to effectively take part in the planned European database on suspected terrorists.
Switzerland is continuing to play a successful role in pinpointing potential threats, last year the Federal Intelligence Service obtained 9,000 files and passed 4,500 data sets to other countries, employing more than 281 individuals in various branches to combat terrorism. Many wonder if the new surveillance system will be as effective as other methods employed to combat terrorism, but for now we will have to wait and see.