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Several breaches Data protection rules violated during Swiss election

Adrian Lobsiger

Lobsiger wants a direct say in how data protection laws are updated.

(© Keystone / Peter Schneider)

The Swiss Data Protection Commissioner was kept busy during the recent general election, warning several parties about breaking privacy rules. Adrian Lobsiger said he had to issue between five and ten warnings in the build up to the vote last weekend.

“Only a few parties followed data protection regulations from the outset [of the campaign],” Lobsiger told the NZZ am Sonntagexternal link newspaper. “For this reason, I intervened several times during the election campaign over breaches of data protection by political parties and called on those responsible to make corrections.”

This was despite the Commissioner’s office sending out guidelines to all parties in June, which laid out the limits for obtaining and using voters’ data when campaigning for votes.

But Lobsiger said there was no repeat of the more serious abuse carried out by an unnamed party during a popular initiative vote last November. In this instance, the party had commissioned an agency to gather mobile phone numbers in contravention of the rules.

The agency had asked people to send them the numbers of their friends, who were then sent campaigning messages. “If we hadn't intervened then, the party would most likely have done the same during the election campaign," said Lobsiger.

With data protection laws due to be updated, Lobsiger also complained that his office has been denied the chance to directly contribute to the new proposals.

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