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  1. Swiss Vote to Give Their Government More Spying Powers Swiss approve new surveillance law with 66.5% majority Last year, the country's parliament passed a law that allowed its secret service, FIS (Federal Intelligence Service), more powers to snoop on emails, tap phones, or use hidden cameras and microphones. Such technologies and investigative procedures are common practice in other countries, but they have been outlawed by the strict Swiss government. New surveillance law passed in 2015, implementation delayed The law, which the government argued it was needed after the devastating Paris ISIS attacks, was contested by privacy groups and the Swiss leftist political parties, which delayed its implementation and forced it into a country-wide referendum that took place this Sunday. The Swiss population made their voice heard over the weekend and concerned with the ever-increasing threat from terrorist groups have voted to sacrifice some of their privacy for the sake of security. Switzerland, next to Germany and the northern Scandinavian countries, has some of the strictest privacy laws in Europe. So much so that it took Google years to get permission to map out the country via its Street View service. Swiss secret service will need special authorization on a per-case basis FIS, who handles both internal and external cyber-espionage operations, will need special authorization from a court, the defense ministry, and the cabinet if they are to launch internal surveillance operations. According to SwissInfo, opponents of this law struggled in winning the older generation on their side, who mostly voted for the new surveillance laws. The publication also noted the little attention the campaign got in the media, with most of the attention focusing on another topic included in the three-vote referendum, related to a 10 percent boost to the country's old age pension fund. The population voted against an increase of the pension fund just because it would add an extra strain on the state's budget. The third issue was related to Switzerland increasing its green economy, which citizens also voted down. Source
  2. A draft bill for the modernization of Swiss copyright law will be presented for public consultation in the coming months. While downloading for personal use will remain legal, uploading infringing content via BitTorrent will not. In addition to infringement warnings for Internet subscribers, the blocking of "obviously illegal" sites is also on the table. The MPAA, RIAA and associated groups such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance, rarely have positive things to say about Switzerland. “The country has become an attractive haven for services heavily engaged in infringing activity,” the IIPA said in its 2013 USTR submission, while referring to the land-locked nation as “a major exporter of pirated content.” In addition to legislation tipped in favor of service providers, the Swiss also present a fairly unique problem. Thanks to the so-called ‘Logistep Decision’, which wasbemoaned in a recent International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus report, the monitoring of file-sharers is effectively outlawed. As a result it’s estimated that more than a third of Swiss Internet users access unlicensed services each month. With international pressure building the Swiss promised to address the situation and have been doing so via AGUR12, a working group responsible for identifying opportunities to adapt copyright law. In parallel, another working group has been looking at service provider liability. This month the Federal Council took the groups’ recommendations and mandated the Federal Department of Justice and Police to prepare a draft bill for public consultation by the end of 2015. What’s on the table The Federal Council says its aim is to improve the situation for creators without impairing the position of consumers, so there is an element of give-and-take in the proposals for file-sharing, with a focus on balance and “careful consideration” given to data protection issues. Personal file-sharing Current download-and-share-with-impunity will be replaced with an acceptance of downloading for personal use, but with uploading specifically outlawed. This means that while downloading a pirated album from a cyberlocker would be legal, doing so using BitTorrent would be illegal due to inherent uploading. Warnings and notifications While commercial level infringers can already be dealt with under Swiss law, the proposals seek to lower the bar so that those who flout an upload ban on a smaller but persistent scale can be dealt with. AGUR12 has recommended that this should be achieved by sending warning notices to infringers via their ISPs. Only when a user fails to get the message should his or her details be handed over to rightsholders for use in civil proceedings. The Federal Council says it likes the idea, but first wants to investigate how the notification process will work, where the thresholds on persistent infringement lie, and under what process identities can be revealed to rightsholders. Provider liability Under AGUR12′s recommendations, Internet providers will not only be required to remove infringing content from their platforms, but also prevent that same content from reappearing, a standard that U.S. rightsholders are currently pressuring Google to adopt. Additionally, in serious cases authorities should be able to order the blocking of “obviously illegal content or sources”. Any new obligations on service providers would be balanced by granting them with exemption from liability. Conclusion While Switzerland does not wish to render mere downloading illegal, its effective outlawing of BitTorrent for unlicensed content transfers will put it on a par with most Western countries. Furthermore, if service providers are forced to take copyrighted content down and keep it down, Switzerland could become the model that the United States has to live up to. Source
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