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Data security Parliament pushes for cyber expert panel

Questions are being asked about how secure private sets of data really are


The cabinet is facing pressure from parliament to create a commission of experts on data security and cyber privacy issues. The panel is to evaluate the impact of spying activities by foreign intelligence services on Switzerland’s economy and society.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer on Thursday tried in vain to convince members of the House of Representatives that the government cyber policy was sufficient to address the issues.

“We do not need more paper work, but we should apply what we know already,” he said.

He said the cabinet had presented a white paper on cyber risks in June 2012, setting up a regular exchange of information between the different ministries, scientists and business representatives as well as the 26 cantons.

Maurer added that a special bill on data security would be presented shortly.

However, the House of Representatives agreed that extraordinary measures are needed following revelations from the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of eavesdropping by the United States and Britain's state agencies.


The sponsor of the motion, Senator Paul Rechsteiner, argued in December that the government’s strategy was inadequate to counter possible attacks.

The two parliamentary chambers still have to agree on whether to limit the mandate of the panel to three years.

Switzerland’s data protection commissioner Hanspeter Thür has repeatedly called for stronger privacy laws and more transparency. He has criticised Swiss politicians for not taking seriously the risks of large, complex sets of data, known as big data.

During the current spring session, parliament has also begun debating the storage of telecommunication data to be used in court proceedings.


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