Civil Liberties

Wide Wiretap Powers for Swiss Police

Court decision allows for taps on the phones of acquaintances of targeted suspects


The Federal Court has ruled that authorities are allowed to tap third-party telephone connections that are called by a wanted person, in a decision that may set the agenda for proposed changes of national intelligence legislation.

The judges in Lausanne said that Zurich prosecutors may tap the wires of a friend of a suspected robber in order to track him down. The supreme court argued that alleged offenders should not be allowed to escape surveillance measures by frequently changing phones.

The ruling may be a prelude to changes to the federal law on internal security, which the defence ministry is expected to table by the end of the year. The proposed modifications will deal with questions on how to expand tracing methods and preventive measures, including wiretapping.