Swiss Spyware Secrets Hidden from Public

Swiss Spyware Secrets Hidden from Public

Thu, Jan 18th 2024

Swiss Federal Court Upholds Secrecy on Potential Use of Israeli Spyware by National Police and Intelligence

In a recent ruling, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court has barred a lawyer from accessing the contract details of a spy software allegedly used by the nation’s federal police and intelligence service.

The lawyer’s suspicion that the software in question is the infamous Pegasus, developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, can’t be verified due to this decision.

The request for disclosure was initiated in mid-August 2021, spurred by reports from Swiss radio and television about the criminal justice system and the Federal Intelligence Service’s use of Israeli spy software.

However, the Federal Office of Police (FedPol) declined to reveal any details regarding contracts with vendors of “GovWare” surveillance programs, citing the protection of public interests and national security.

The Federal Administrative Court’s decision aligns with FedPol’s stance, emphasising that revealing the contract could potentially expose the spyware provider and its capabilities. Such disclosure might inadvertently inform criminals about the software’s functionalities, thereby compromising its effectiveness.

Despite acknowledging the public’s significant interest in confirming whether the Swiss authorities are indeed utilising Pegasus – a tool reportedly employed by some states against opposition figures, journalists, and foreign leaders – the court maintained that transparency in this matter could impede judicial operations.

The ruling also highlighted the stringent legal framework governing surveillance program usage in Switzerland. Such tools are legally permissible only under suspicions of criminal activities or threats to national security.


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