Parliamentarians demand: Facebook Switzerland should have to hand over data

Facebook Switzerland should be required to hand over data to the law enforcement authorities, without detouring via mutual legal assistance. This is what parliamentarians from all parliamentary groups are demanding. The Federal Council also sees a problem, but is relying on international solutions.


The demand from parliament was triggered by a federal court ruling in December. The court ruled that the public prosecutor's office of the canton of Vaud cannot oblige Facebook Switzerland to hand over the data of a Facebook account allegedly opened in Switzerland. A Belgian journalist had filed a criminal complaint against Unknown. He claimed that someone had posted anti-Semitic statements against him on Facebook under a pseudonym.

Ireland data

The public prosecutor's office in Vaud opened criminal proceedings for defamation, slander and insult. It ordered Facebook Switzerland and the managing directors to hand over the account holder's identity, access data and IP address. The victims filed a complaint against this - and were successful before the Federal Supreme Court. The judges argued that the surrender of data can only be ordered against someone who is actually the owner or holder of the data. However, Facebook Switzerland is only responsible for marketing issues. Ireland has the data of Swiss users. This means that they would have to be requested via a legal assistance procedure.

Duty to branch

SP Council of States member Christian Levrat (FR) and SP National Council member Jean Christophe Schwaab (VD) are now calling for an amendment to the law with identical proposals. Social networks whose services are aimed at Swiss consumers and which process personal data in the process should be required to have a representative in Switzerland. This representation should provide data in criminal proceedings without the authorities having to request legal assistance from another country.

Broad support

The current situation is unsatisfactory, they say. Social networks such as Facebook should be able to be held responsible just like any other natural or legal person. Members of parliament from all parliamentary groups have co-signed the motion. The Federal Council also considers the current situation unsatisfactory, as it writes in its response to the motion published on Thursday. It is looking for solutions, it assures. However, it rejects the path proposed by the motion. It therefore proposes that the councils reject it.

The wrong way

Companies could hardly be obliged to establish a representation in Switzerland, the Federal Council points out. In addition, the Swiss representation could store data abroad, so that the surrender would still have to be demanded by means of mutual legal assistance. Solutions should primarily be sought within the framework of international cooperation, writes the Federal Council. Efforts to this end are underway. The cybercrime committee of the Council of Europe is working on proposals. Switzerland, together with other signatory states, is working hard to achieve a practical solution within the framework of the Cyber Crime Convention. (SDA)

Photo Matterhorn: Claudia Wehrli / Narya / Pixabay

More articles on the topic