It happened on a Sunday, September 25th, a day which will probably go down in history. That is when Swiss voters approved a new surveillance law granting their national intelligence service greater powers to spy on “terrorist” suspects and cyber criminals.
A good initiative in theory, when put to practice, this new law would allow the authorities to tap phones, snoop on email and deploy hidden cameras and bugs, thus monitoring any potential suspects.
Of the 5 million voters, 65 percent supported this legislative initiative. The other 35 percent will just have to deal with this situation and find solutions for not being tracked (you can always try our free VPN, available on any platform).
Any resemblance to the NSA is purely coincidental
Does this new law remind of the already notorious data-gathering machine developed by the NSA and revealed by Edward Snowden?
Not to Yannick Buttet, a politician and Christian Democratic Party vice president, who declared: “This is not generalized surveillance. It’s letting the intelligence services do their job.” Guy Parmelin, Swiss defence minister, said that with the new measures Switzerland was “leaving the basement and coming up to the ground floor by international standards”.
Until now, phone tapping and monitoring emails were banned in Switzerland.
So why now, Switzerland?
Opponents of this legislation have pointed out that it could erode civil liberties and put Swiss neutrality at risk by requiring closer co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies.
However, the recent surge in terrorist attacks in Europe has had a major impact on the level of fear among the old continent’s population. Even a neutral country like Switzerland, that fought its las war in 1847, began to feel threatened and when scared, people tend to make rash decisions.
Somehow, those that voted in favor of the new surveillance law thought that they would thus help increase security. And when you have to vote between privacy and security, people tend to wrongly sacrifice the first.
The illusion of choice
A Hobson’s choice is a “free choice” in which only one thing is really offered. The phrase is said to have originated with Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England, who offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in his stall nearest the door or taking none at all.
When having to opt between privacy and security, there is no real decision involved. They both should be innate rights and their defense should be the responsibility of the state. Therefore, the people should not have to compromise on any.
What’s your take on the subject, Ghosties? If we have people living in Switzerland among us, how do you feel about this new law?