Internet censorship in Switzerland

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Internet censorship in Switzerland is regulated by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland on a case by case basis. Internet services provided by the registered with BAKOM Internet service providers (ISPs) are subject to a "voluntary recommendation" by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, which requires blocking of websites just after 18 December 2007.[1][2] As of October 2015, this might change soon and additional topics like Online gambling are on the focus now.[3][needs update?]


There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority.[4]

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press. A referendum on limits to free speech in Switzerland occurred on February 9, 2020 where the Swiss people voted 63.1% to 36.9%[5] to allow a 2018 anti-LGBT discrimination bill to be enacted. The bill criminalizes "discriminatory statements made on TV, social media, or public venues."[6] The committee "No to Censorship" argues on its website that individuals have the right to express controversial public opinions.[6] Other Swiss laws passed from 2012 penalize public incitement to racial hatred or discrimination, spreading racist ideology, and denying crimes against humanity, but there were no convictions or arrests under these laws in 2012. Under Swiss federal law, it is a crime to publish information based on leaked "secret official discussions." A number of cases involving violations of secrecy by the press were under investigation during 2012, but authorities handed down no sentences for such offenses.[4]

In November 2011 the Swiss government ruled that downloading unlicensed copies of films, music and video games for personal use will remain legal, because it is not detrimental to copyright owners.[7][8]

In 2010 the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland found that IP addresses are personal information and that under Swiss privacy laws they may not be used to track Internet usage without the knowledge of the individuals involved. Switzerland's Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner praised the decision and said that companies using personal information to track Internet usage are assuming "tasks clearly in the State's domain" and only the state can violate personal privacy and only when pursuing criminal cases. He also made clear his view that the "decision provides no protection for anyone breaking the law. Clearly it should be possible to punish copyright infringements on the Internet".[9]

A proposal was drafted in 2002 to revise Swiss federal laws on lotteries and betting. Under the proposal providers offering access to games that are considered illegal face fines up to 1 million Swiss francs or up to a year of imprisonment. This effort was suspended in 2004, and no further action has been taken since.[10]

In December 2002 a local Swiss magistrate ordered several Swiss ISPs to block access to three Web sites hosted in the United States that were strongly critical of Swiss courts, and to modify their DNS-servers to block the domain The Swiss Internet User Group and the Swiss Network Operators Group protested that the blocks could easily be bypassed and that the move was contrary to the Swiss constitution, which guarantees "the right to receive information freely, to gather it from generally accessible sources and to disseminate it" to every person. Nonetheless, there was strong enforcement, as the directors of noncompliant ISPs were asked to appear personally in court, failing which they faced charges of disobedience.[11]

Opposition to Internet censorship[edit]

Internet censorship circumvention is the process used by Internet users to bypass the technical aspects of Internet filtering and gain access to otherwise censored material.

Circumvention software[edit]

Software applications for circumventing web-blocking are readily available. Tor is in use through software including xB Browser and Vidalia, and a number of other proxy solutions including Proxify. Freenet is another popular solution available for free download from the Internet.[12][better source needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Exklusiv! ISPs sollen Zugang zu 11 Webseiten sperren". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Exklusiv! Lausanner Justiz lässt Webseite(n) als 'Tatwerkzeug' sperren". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Bundesrat will mit Netzsperren gegen ausländische Geldspielangebote vorgehen". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Switzerland", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  5. ^ Foulkes, Imogen (9 February 2020). "Switzerland votes in favour of LGBT protection bill". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b Peltier, Elian (9 February 2020). "Swiss Vote to Penalize Public Homophobia". New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Swiss insist file-sharers don't hurt copyright holders", Caleb Cox, The Register, 5 December 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Urheberrechtsverletzungen im Internet: Der bestehende rechtliche Rahmen genügt" Archived 19 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine ("Copyright infringement on the Internet: The existing legal framework is sufficient"), Medienmitteilungen, Der Bundesrat, 30 November 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  9. ^ "P2P investigations now illegal in Switzerland", Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 10 September 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Social Filtering", Internet Filtering in Europe 2006-2007, OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Nationalistic Filtering", Internet Filtering in Europe 2006-2007, OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  12. ^ Alan Henry (24 April 2013). "The Best Browser Extensions that Protect Your Privacy". LifeHacker. Retrieved 9 April 2015.