Swiss authorities used surveillance powers more in 2022
In 2022, the Swiss police and Federal Intelligence Services (FIS) used around 27 percent more measures to monitor postal and telecommunications traffic compared to the previous year, according to figures revealed by the UPS Service (Überwachung des Post- und Fernmeldeverkehrs) last Friday. The sharp increase has been put down to a rise in the number of telecommunication investigations - where the authorities use cell tower data to monitor communications.
Increase in Swiss surveillance - but decrease in costs
Even though 2022 saw more surveillance in Switzerland, the cost of monitoring the country’s population actually decreased compared to 2021. The overall cost of surveillance in Switzerland last year was 31,7 million Swiss francs - slightly lower than the 31,9 million francs the alpine nation spent on monitoring in 2021.
One-third of the instances in which people were surveilled related to property crime in the country, while only five percent of measures were enacted due to threats to life and limb as well as crimes against freedom. In spite of this, however, measures enacted due to crimes against freedom increased by almost 70 percent in 2022.
A quarter of measures were also carried out for violations of the Narcotics Act, and nine percent of surveillance operations were required for emergency searches.
Surveillance laws in Switzerland
According to Swiss law, the criminal prosecution service can order measures to monitor postal and telecommunications traffic to investigate serious crimes. The FIS can exercise the same powers thanks to the Intelligence Service Act.
For each surveillance operation, the authorities must have their operations reviewed by a judicial licencing authority, and the FIS needs prior approval from Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) to carry out monitoring of postal- and telecommunications.