27.03.2024 - FDPIC's statement on exchange of police data

Data Protection Commissioner welcomes public debate on the inter-cantonal agreement on the exchange of data between police corps and the planned involvement of the federal government

27.03.2024 - The Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors (CCJPD) has conducted a consultation on an agreement on the exchange of police data. Following the criticism of the agreement expressed by the Commissioner both in the consultation and in the media, several police corps commanders and the CCJPD felt compelled to publicly reject the FDPIC's criticism.

The planned agreement aims to establish a common police data area by setting up a search platform. The platform would enable cantonal police corps to submit online requests for access to information on persons recorded by the cantonal police but not yet included in national police systems without having to fulfil specific conditions. At present, requests for information are considered on a case-by-case basis in administrative assistance proceedings. Under the agreement, information regarding administrative police authorisations and measures or minor incidents such as disturbances of the peace would be directly accessible on an inter-cantonal basis. As the federal government would effectively be a party to the agreement, the same information would then also be directly accessible to the federal police authorities. To date, the information available has been limited to complex and serious criminal offences and security threats.

The planned agreement would inevitably bring about a systemic change in police data flows and processing powers at all levels of the federal state (communal, cantonal and federal levels). This also applies to data protection, as the agreement stipulates that data processing in the search platform must be carried out in accordance with the Federal Data Protection Act and, if the latter participates as planned, under the supervision of the FDPIC.

As the overall architecture of the scheme is geared towards the involvement of the federal authorities and has traits of a unified police database, there is significant potential for serious encroachments on the privacy and informational self-determination of the population. In view of the loose wording of the agreement planned by the CCJPD, its scope in terms of data protection law is difficult to assess. The same applies to the planned federal involvement, which also raises constitutional law concerns.

The Commissioner welcomes the fact that a public debate has been initiated on this important project, elements of which are justified in his view. There will be opportunity for more in-depth debate during the talks with cantonal data protection officers proposed by the CCJPD.

Last modification 09.04.2024

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