9th annual report 2001/2002

Below you will find a selection of the articles included in the FDIPC's 9th annual report. If you are interested in the complete versions of the reports, please refer to the corresponding pages in German or French.


The 11th September abruptly changed the debate on the relationship between public security and the protection of personal freedoms. Ever since the two aircraft reduced the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York to smouldering rubble, there has been no let up in the discussion. Around the globe, the war on terror and the question of public security have been top of the agenda.

Sensible Use of E-Mail

The office equipment provided to employees by employers generally includes an e-mail programme, which is sometimes integrated into Office Manager. E-mails enable the exchange of professional information, and sometimes private information as well, both within the company and with external contacts.

Security Problems in Local and Personal Wireless Networks

As is always the case with new technologies, a whole range of legal problems affecting data protection has accompanied the arrival of local and personal wireless networks. Wireless communication offers various advantages, such as lower cable infrastructure and greater mobility for users, but these benefits are offset by the increased risk of communications being intercepted or bugged via radio frequencies.

Biometric Identification and Attendant Risks

Biometric methods permit a person to be definitively identified by means of certain physical features. Many physical attributes are unique and do not change in the course of a lifetime. The advantage here is that physical features (unlike passwords) can neither be lost nor passed on to others. For this reason biometric identification is considered to be especially secure. All the same, as well as the benefits for security and data protection, there are considerable risks involved.

Basic Standards Required for Protecting Privacy in the Case of Chip Cards

Chip cards are already a firmly established part of everyday life. Some basic standards are required, however, in order to ensure that the use of these cards does not pose a risk to the private domain.

The Schengen Convention from the Viewpoint of Data Protection

In the course of 2001 the Schengen Convention assumed a greater political importance when Switzerland was given the authority to negotiate for accession, and we began to analyse the Convention from a data protection point of view. Our analysis revealed that Switzerland adequately fulfils the requirements with regard to the data protection provisions that are to be introduced.

Minimum Standards Required for the Introduction of a Health Card

On the occasion of the conference organised by the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (DHA) different scenarios for the introduction of a health card in Switzerland were examined. Regardless of the model to be ultimately selected, the introduction and acceptance of a health card will depend to a great extent on how the data protection conditions are fulfilled. We took this opportunity to voice an opinion on the most important criteria which must be taken into consideration.

Minimum Standards Required for Dealing with Genetic Investigations

The decoding of the human genome poses a fresh challenge for the legislator. It is of supreme importance to guarantee self-determination in informational matters and to prevent any discrimination on the basis of genetic make-up. The following sections outline some important principles to be respected when dealing with genetic investigations.

Disclosure of Employee Data outside Switzerland

The transmission of data relating to employees to centralised databases outside Switzerland is increasingly becoming the norm, especially in the case of the Swiss subsidiaries of large company groups. The primary objective is to create economies in wage management and staff recruitment.

General Standards Required for Testing Websites (Certificates)

The introduction of Internet based business transactions (e-commerce) brings with it fresh problems for businesses. It is particularly important to clarify the question of the extent to which the use of new technologies is a threat to privacy.

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.

Further information


Order online

The complete annual Report can be ordered in german and french from the BBL, Vertrieb Publikationen, 3003 Bern, Art. Nr. 410.009