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20th annual report 2012/2013

Below, you find a selection of articles taken from the FDIPC's 20th annual report. If you are interested in the complete version of the reports, please refer to the corresponding pages in German or French.

Preface

Current situation and outlook

Ten years ago, we took a close look at the planned introduction of personal identifiers. The identifier was developed as part of the register harmonization plan, and the intention was to allow a census to be taken by means of the register of permanent residents. We took issue with the fact that the intended use of this unique identifier had not been defined sufficiently clearly, and that the number could be used for a wide range of unspecified administrative purposes. Unfortunately, our original suggestion that sector-specific numbers be created to obviate this problem was rejected. The new social security (AHV) number has now been introduced, and it can be used for purposes that the legislator has defined in very broad terms (Article 50e of the Social Security Act).


Video surveillance in changing rooms at leisure centres

Many citizens have contacted us to complain that more and more leisure centre operators have installed video cameras in sensitive areas such as changing rooms and toilets. This is an extremely worrying development since it violates the privacy of the persons concerned.


Combating doping in sport and personal data transfers abroad

Since the entry into force of the Federal Law on the Promotion of Sport and Physical Education (LPSPE), there is a legal basis for the transfer of data to the World Anti Doping Agency. As the data are transferred outside Switzerland, however, a sufficient level of data protection has to be guaranteed by contractual agreement.


Explanations on naming and shaming on the internet

The activity of naming and shaming individuals on the internet is becoming increasingly popular. Customers who don't pay their bills, members of a government department or agency whose decisions provoke resentment, or persons who defend certain political opinions, are placed on an internet black list and thus exposed to the opprobrium of the public. Naming and shaming individuals on the internet deprives that person of their personality rights and is usually illegal.


Street views on the internet - Decision of the Federal Supreme Court

On 31 May 2012, the Federal Supreme Court ruled on the data protection aspects of Google Street View. The main points at issue were the applicability of the Swiss Data Protection Act, the requirements for automatic anonymization, anonymization in the vicinity of sensitive facilities, and the capture of images in the private sphere which would not normally be visible to passers-by.


File-sharing websites - the legal situation after the Logistep judgment

The judgment in the Logistep case has created a certain amount of uncertainty as to whether copyright infringement can still be prosecuted under current legislation. However, efforts are now underway to introduce measures into legislation to facilitate the enforcement of copyright on the internet and therefore to create clarity in the matter.


Social media monitoring and data protection

Businesses and the authorities are taking an increasing interest in the way they are being portrayed in the social media. This trend has spawned a service called social media monitoring.


Total overhaul of the Federal Mail and Telecommunications Monitoring Act

The FDPIC has expressed his opinion on the draft bill of the total overhaul of the Federal Mail and Telecommunications Monitoring Act within the framework of inter-ministerial consultations on the subject. One of the new features is that a legal basis will be created for the use of computer programmes. We had already asked for a legal basis to cover the publication of content data which have been obtained from telecommunication sources.


Intelligence Service Act

The second consultation round on the draft Intelligence Service Act has now been completed and, from a data protection perspective, a number of improvements have been introduced. However, there are some elements of the law that are still problematic, such as instruments for information acquisition, or the exclusion of the Federal Intelligence Service from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.


Transfer of employee data to the US authorities

A number of banks have handed over to the US authorities documents including lists of current and former employees' names, email addresses and telephone numbers, as well as those of third parties. We carried out an examination of the relevant facts among the five banks concerned, and issued a series of recommendations calling upon the banks to adopt a more transparent approach.


Sending extracts from the commercial register via the internet

Last summer, two cantons introduced a new practice for their commercial registers in order to comply with the transparency principle. Any person who requests information will immediately be sent an automatic email that includes all the relevant documentation. This seamless transition from a public inspection system requiring a visit to the commercial registry, or at the very least a personal contact, to an internet-based system introduced to ensure greater transparency, raises a number of fundamental issues in terms of data and personality protection.


Modernising the commercial register - modifying the Code of Obligations

The commercial register is due for an overhaul to bring it up to date. The plan is to establish a central electronic data pool supported by a uniform software system. From a data protection perspective, we particularly welcome the introduction of a right to be forgotten that is in conformity with the requirements of the commercial register.


Transparency principle

In 2012, the number of requests for access increased by 8% over the previous year. The numbers of cases where full access was either granted or denied remained the same. There was a slight decrease of 3 percentage points in the number of cases where partial access was granted (this includes those cases where access was granted after a delay). The biggest surprise was the massive drop in fees that were invoiced. During the year under review, the number of requests for mediation increased by 20% to 78.


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