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Tickets please! Swiss train pass data to be deleted

The Federal Railways introduced the new SwissPass electronic card in August 2015

(Keystone)

The Federal Railways has agreed to stop collecting passenger data via the new electronic SwissPass public transport card. This follows pressure from the Federal Data Protection Commissioner and concerns about how travel data was being used.

The Federal Railways (SBB/CFF) announced on Monday that from the end of March it would stop collecting user data via its new electronic SwissPass card. 

The SwissPassexternal link is a red plastic card that carries a microchip containing various travel passes, such as a half-price subscription or a national pass, allowing the holder to travel on most public transport in the country for a set fee. The card, which was introduced in August 2015, is scanned by ticket inspectors on buses and trains, and the time of day, train or route number and pass number are all saved within 90 minutes to a database. 

The decision to end traveller data collection follows criticism by the Federal Data Protection Commissioner (ad interim), Jean-Philippe Walter, who described it as “unnecessary” and “disproportionate”. He said many people had contacted him expressing concerns over the excessive collection. In an open letter, he said he could not rule out the possibility that the stored data was being used to create profiles of people’s movements. 

The Swiss public transport union said in a statement on Monday that it was pushing for clear legal guidelines to ensure the development of “customer-friendly tariff systems”. 

By mid-October, the SwissPass database already contained 3.2 million entries. The Federal Railways said that the information gathered is not being used for marketing purposes or given to third parties. 

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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