Following the Geneva Internet Conference (17-19 November) organised by the Geneva Internet Platform, media reports highlighted the role of Geneva as a global hub for IG.
The new Ordinance on Internet Domains (passed by the Federal Council on 5 November 2014) imposing a separation between the functions of registry and registrar (both performed by SWITCH so far) entered into force in January 2015. On 20 March 2015, OFCOM and SWICH renewed their contract for the management of ‘.ch’ until mid-2017, allowing for a gradual transfer of ‘.ch’ holders to other marketers of domain names.
According to decisions of the Swiss Parliament taken on March 1, 2017, offline and online gambling will be regulated by limiting it to a fixed number of Swiss-based operators only. Foreign online gambling sites will be considered illegal, and Internet service providers will be obliged to block these sites based on IP addresses or domain names. This is the first law in Switzerland which foresees such measures for any purpose. Critics warn about a “slippery slope” of increasing demands for Internet blocking that could even amount to censorship.
The legal case against data retention organized by the Swiss NGO Digitale Gesellschaft has proceeded to Switzerland's highest court after a lower court on November 9, 2016, rendered a judgment in favor of data retention despite recognizing that this practice interferes severely with the fundamental rights of the complainants. The legal case will likely need to be pursued all the way to the European Court of Human Rights before a positive result can be expected.
At its meeting on 11.01.2017, the Swiss government accepted a new framework for transferring personal data from Switzerland to companies based in the USA. This “Privacy Shield” framework replaces the previous “Safe Harbor” arrangement and it is claimed to improve the protection of personal data. While certification under the EU-US “Privacy Shield” framework are not valid for Switzerland, the two frameworks are similar and intended to guarantee the same general conditions for persons and businesses in Switzerland and the EU area in relation to trans-Atlantic data flows.
Motivated primarily by fears of terrorism, Swiss voters have approved, with a large majority, a new intelligence service law (Nachrichtendienstgesetz, NDG) which inter alia foresees a somewhat restricted form of Internet mass surveillance, and which also allows breaking into end-user devices for purses of acquiring stored information and monitoring communications. The referendum vote took place on September 25, 2016, after a coalition of civil society organizations and political groups had collected the required number of signatures to force a referendum vote on the law.