A poster protesting the national referendum. It translates to: "Widespread spying? No to the Law on Intelligence."
Photo by Fabrice Coffrin—AFP via Getty Images
By Michal Addady
September 25, 2016

In a national referendum on Sunday, Switzerland voted to expand the powers of the country’s intelligence services.

The Associated Press reports that this will give Swiss authorities access to phones and emails, and it allows the Federal Intelligence Service and others to monitor suspects with hidden cameras and microphones, though it would first require authorization from the federal administrative tribunal and oversight counsels. The referendum passed with 65.5% support.

Prior to this referendum, Swiss intelligence services relied on publicly available information and tips from foreign officials. Those who support the referendum say that it’s necessary to keep up with other countries in their ability to counteract cyber crime and extremist attacks. Those who are against it say that it won’t actually do much to counteract terrorism, and it will only work to diminish civil liberties.

Yannick Buttet, the Christian Democratic party vice president, insisted that these new measures don’t necessitate generalized surveillance. As he told public broadcaster RTS, it simply allows the intelligence services to do their jobs.

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