Harmonising Registers of Persons

By way of a clarification, the new Federal Constitution established that the Federal Government is the competent authority for official statistics. In the same article on statistics, a new federal power was created, according to which the national government is empowered to issue regulations concerning official registers in order to contain the expenditures involved in compiling lists.

No one surely would wish to argue against the statisticians' desire to organise the compiling of resisters in the most rational manner possible. The conclusion reflects this, and that is the reason for the federal competence relating to harmonising registers, namely that it is pointless to conduct surveys and use special questionnaires in order to collect information and data that already exist in cantonal registers. But how do they go about harmonising the registers? The crucial point for us may as well be spelled out at once: the first step is to create a number (PIN) for every resident of the country as a means of identifying him or her unambiguously and permanently. This very fact is scarcely comprehensible, and it moreover contradicts the position of the Federal Office of Statistics, which in the aftermath of the national census of 2001 let it be known that PIN numbers were alien to Swiss culture and that greater savings could potentially be achieved through the change in method now being aimed at. This statement can still be found on the Web. For data protection, however, an equally serious matter is the fact that the Federal Office, under the rubric "Co-ordination with Other Projects", is pressing on with additional utilisation of the desired PIN numbers in non-statistical applications. The fact that from the viewpoint of legal rights to privacy, these administrative dealings are qualitatively quite different from the statistical ones, is simply being ignored, and the vital political debate on whether a universal PIN number should be introduced in Switzerland for administrative purposes has simply not taken place. The most important conclusion to be drawn from this situation is that the determination of PIN question must be not form part of the current project being undertaken by the Federal Office of Statistics.

[July 2002]