Swiss Vote on New Intelligence Law

Swiss Vote on New Intelligence LawSwiss Vote on New Intelligence Law

Swiss voters are casting ballots to decide whether to grant new powers to Switzerland's intelligence services, such as tracking Internet activity, snooping on email boxes and tapping phones to better fight spies, criminal hackers and violent extremists.

A new intelligence law, pension reforms and environmental policy are issues being considered in Sunday's referendum, AP reported. Proponents say the law, passed a year ago but not enacted, is needed to help Switzerland catch up with other countries that have stronger legal arsenals to counter cybercrime, snooping or extremist attacks.

Opponents fear it will deplete civil liberties, do little to impede terrorism and chip away at Switzerland's long-vaunted neutrality.

Swiss law currently bars authorities from using anything more than publicly available information or tips from foreign officials when monitoring threats inside the country.

Under the law, the Federal Intelligence Service and other authorities would be allowed to tap phones, cut through mail, infiltrate email boxes, keep tabs on Internet activity and deploy hidden cameras and microphones to monitor suspects who are deemed a clear threat.

However, this would be possible only if authorized by the federal administrative tribunal and federal counselors who have oversight.