Cabinet upholds secret service files

The cabinet has decided to continue allowing secret service files to be held on people who are not considered suspects.

This content was published on October 22, 2010 - 17:10 and agencies

Its decision comes after it was revealed in summer that the Swiss secret service had been collecting information on 200,000 people, of which 80,000 were not direct suspects. In 100,000 cases the data had not been properly assessed, which is in breach of the law.

The revelations, contained in a parliamentary watchdog report, caused an outcry among politicians and data protection experts.

The report went on to issue 17 recommendations to amend the situation.

In its reply to the findings on Friday, the cabinet said it was ready to make some changes, especially in how data was checked. But it did not accept all of the report’s criticisms.

In particular, it wants to maintain the right to keep files on people who are associated with suspects, but are not actually accused of any wrongdoing themselves.

The storing of secret information has been a sensitive issue in Switzerland since a major scandal in the early 1990s. A special investigation found that the authorities kept data on around 900,000 people and organisations which had been put under surveillance.

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