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IV. Governance issues


The SuisseID provide an electronic proof of identity in Switzerland, supporting both a legally binding electronic signature as well as a method for secure authentication. Available in form of a USB key or as smart card, the SuisseID allows for conducting business online in a secure manner. By means of SuisseID, private persons are able to sign contracts with companies as well as with the public authorities directly via Internet; in addition, private companies are able to sign contracts with each other.1

Open government

In July 2006, the Freedom of Information Act (Bundesgesetz über das Öffentlichkeitsprinzip der Verwaltung or BGÖ) came into effect.2 The FDPIC is responsible for Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service related to the new Act. The FDPIC has already made several recommendations, and the number of requests for arbitration is increasing.3

In some cantons, the data protection law is at the same time a "Freedom of Information Law" (Öffentlichkeitsgesetz), and the data protection officer has the duties of a Freedom of Information Protection Officer as well. According to such laws, all official documents should be publicly available and citizens have a legal right to receive information -- except if a document is declared as confidential. Other cantons and the Confederation are preparing a similar law.4 However, the first consultations among interested parties are revealing considerable opposition, e.g. in the canton of Zurich.

In 2009, the FDPIC dealt with 41 requests for arbitration (25 in 2008); 65 percent of the cases resulted in a success for the requester.

In April 2005, a revision of the regulation (decree) on Land Registers (Grundbuchverordnung), dating back to 1910, was put into force by the Government.5 The cantons are now allowed to publish parts of the register on the Internet.

Other development

No specific information has been provided under this section.

Non-government organisations' advocacy work

No specific information has been provided under this section.

International obligations

Switzerland acceded to the 1966 UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) but it is not party to its First Optional Protocol, which establishes an individual complaint mechanism.6

Switzerland is a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and has signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).7 Switzerland has signed and ratified the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Convention No. 108) in 1997.8 It has signed and ratified the Additional Protocol to the above mentioned Convention No. 108 as well.9 In November 2001, Switzerland signed the CoE Convention on Cybercrime, but has not ratified it.10

It is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and has adopted the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.

As reported above, Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has some special agreements with the EU. Some of these bilateral agreements were signed in 2000 and 2001. Further some EU regulations must be implemented "automatically" in the Swiss legal order, like the regulation for passports previously described.