Restricting administrative assistance in relation to stolen data

We are of the view that it is unlawful to process requests for administrative assistance that are based on stolen data. We thus responded critically to the proposal for a further amendment to the Federal Act on International Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters at the consultative committee stage.

Besides the amendment discussed in section 1.9.2 of the present annual report, a further change to the Tax Administrative Assistance Act is planned. We expressed our view on the bill at the consultative committee stage. We believe the planned amendment to be highly problematic from the point of view of data protection. If data is unlawfully obtained and thereafter passed on to a third party, the recipient of the personal data, who likewise processes it, violates the principle of legality and breaches the privacy of the person concerned. In our opinion such unlawfulness is not justified by the fact that a distinction is drawn between active and passive action by the recipient state.

If a state accepts stolen data offered to it, it accepts the criminal past associated with it. If the state processes the data and passes it on to others, it also acts unlawfully and takes part in the breach of privacy. We therefore requested the SIF to reject or amend the draft bill; however, no account was taken of our request.