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Swiss move towards "privacy by default"

The Data Protection Act may be revised following an independent evaluation of its effectiveness and efficiency.

"In view of the rapid pace of development in the area of communication technologies, there is a need for greater transparency in the processing of personal data,” according to a statement released on Monday summing up the annual report of the Swiss data protection commissioner.

“Data protection principles must be included in all projects and taken into account from the very outset (privacy by default).”

The evaluation, commissioned by the Federal Justice Office, is to be completed this year.

The report says the data protection commissioner, Hanspeter Thür, had handled a large number of data protection cases over the year relating to new technologies.

One issue of concern is so-called evercookies, which are virtually impossible to remove from a browser. The commissioner is monitoring the implementation of a European Union e-privacy directive which provides an opt-in clause for cookies.

The report says the Federal Data Protection Office had received a large number of enquiries about the introduction of a new health insurance card, which had “clearly unsettled” the population.

Inspections of two mail-order pharmacies revealed a good understanding of data protection principles, although uncertainty remained about which health data was covered by law.


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