Opponents to Swiss surveillance law force direct public vote

A Swiss digital surveillance law that has rankled online privacy advocates will now be subjected to a public vote, after opponents collected enough signatures to challenge the legislation.

The Swiss parliament passed the law, the Intelligence Act, in September 2015. The act gives Swiss federal law enforcement officers increased leeway to conduct surveillance operations on its citizens, including hacking into computers and collecting cell data—but now it must be approved by Switzerland's general population, announced Swiss encrypted email service ProtonMail, which spearheaded the petition effort.

Under Switzerland's direct democracy, any law can be put up for public referendum if opponents collect at least 50,000 signatures within three months its passing. According to a news item ProtonMail published earlier this month, the referendum is also backed by rights organisations Amnesty International and Grundrechte.ch, plus various Swiss political and business groups.