The head of Switzerland’s largest telecoms company Swisscom has reassured its Swiss clients that their internet data is as secure as it can be, while telling Le Temps newspaper, “there is no such thing as 100 per cent security”.
Against a backdrop of concerns about United States spying in Europe, Carsten Schloter said there had been no confirmed thefts of Swisscom data, despite daily attacks from cyber criminals.
Swisscom has never released data to the US authorities, he assured the paper. Information is only released in response to requests from the Swiss police request on the basis of a court order.
However, Schloter estimated that just 10 to 15 per cent of data linked to all Swiss internet users is actually stored in Switzerland. The rest is stored in data centres abroad, “mainly in the United States, via Google, Facebook or Twitter”.
Much of that transatlantic internet data is transmitted through the undersea cable TAT-14, one of the key communications links between the US and Europe, launched in 2001 by a consortium of telecoms companies including Swisscom.
Reports have appeared recently in the Swiss media alleging that the British secret services are filtering and intercepting that traffic.
Meanwhile one in four Swiss internet users who responded to a Link Institute survey commissioned by price comparison website comparis.ch said they would change their online behaviour following revelations of far-reaching US surveillance of personal data. The majority told the survey, published on Wednesday, that they did not feel personally affected by the scandal.
Last month former employee of the US intelligence operation the National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden, leaked details of intrusive surveillance techniques to the media.
He claimed that the NSA had brokered deals with large telephone and computer services companies to gain “back door” access to personal information held in their files. Snowden is now a fugitive from the US reportedly holed up in transit in a Moscow airport.
He has applied for asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and 18 other countries, according to WikiLeaks, a controversial website that has been advising him. Many European countries on the list, including Switzerland, said he would have to be present on their soil in order to make his request.