Research by SRF Investigativ shows: harmless organizations such as the Green Party, the NGO Public Eye and the youth umbrella organization have been registered with the state security services. It now makes public that it is currently cleaning databases.
Author: Nadine Woodtli, Fiona Endres
The Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) has been repeatedly criticized by regulators in recent years for its data hunger. Due to this criticism, several organizations have requested access to files on what secret services keep on them.
Green: more than 2,000 entries
One of them is the Green Switzerland party. Outcome: 2,394 hits for the FIS Greens, 110 entries for President Balhasar Glättli himself. He calls it the “à gogo gathering frenzy” because even old records of delegate meetings were stored in the FIS working database: “In a database that if information on terrorism, espionage or violent extremism is collected, references to delegate meetings are not made” .
Legend: Green Switzerland Party Entries in Intelligence Database: Green Switzerland Delegate Assemblies
Request for access to personal files
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Any person, any organization, may request access to data held about him by the Federal Intelligence Service pursuant to Section 63 (right to information) of the Intelligence Service Act. For this, a copy of the ID card is required.
By law, the FIS cannot obtain any information about political activity or the exercise of freedom of expression, except for specific indications of terrorist activity or violent extremists.
Stored as by-catch in databases
However, a lot of information in FIS storage systems has nothing to do with the statutory mandate. They end up in databases as by-catch data, so to speak. Example: Green National Councilor Marionna Schlatter was recorded because her name was mentioned in a press article – and an article about a suspected violent extremist was printed on the same page. The entire page ended up in the archives of the secret services.
How can FIS run a good news service if it manages loads of useless data?
State law expert Professor Markus Schefer criticizes the fact that FIS stores uninvolved third parties in its filing systems: “How can FIS conduct good intelligence when it manages a collection of useless data,” Schefer asks. “The cut would be in its own interest and certainly in the interests of the fundamental rights of those concerned.”
The FIS does not watch or monitor the Greens, says FIS spokesman Isabelle Graber. The FIS is interested in other aspects of the stored documents.
The FIS does not collect any information about parliamentarians, political groups or parties
SRF Investigativ conducted a poll among national parties. None except Green Switzerland has applied for inspection of the file.
There are also entries for the youth umbrella organization “SAJV”, which represents, inter alia, scouts – e.g. for an approved, harmless street theater. “We have the feeling that the FIS is still collecting too much and too widely,” says Raphaël Bez of the youth umbrella organization: “We don’t need a new fichen scandal.”
Legend: From intelligence service files Old entries on the WEF counter-event agenda by Public Eye Public Eye
SRF Investigativ knows half a dozen organizations that ended up in FIS databases in this way. Also the non-governmental organization “Public Eye”, which works for fairer world trade. The FIS also writes that he is not interested in the organization. However, at the time of the file check, the club had over 400 hits. Some of them in the database of violent extremism.
“We don’t understand it at all, and the FIS hasn’t justified it either,” says board member Christa Luginbühl. “This worries us a lot.” The Intelligence Service writes that it is interested in other aspects of these stored documents.
Cleanup action in NDB
Confronted with these previously unpublished examples, the FIS now publishes a secret directive. The databases have been cleaned since September last year. Four and a half million reports have already been deleted. “We remove and dispose of,” says Isabelle Graber. In addition, every incoming report is now checked against intelligence data.
The FIS works strictly according to the law and is very tightly controlled. Non-involved third parties have nothing to fear from the FIS.
This is a progress and must now be included in the current amendment to the law on intelligence services, says constitutionalist Schefer: “A good idea of examining every person and every organization should be clearly expressed in German in the text of the law. law.”
Tonight at “10 to 10”
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You can see more about it tonight on “10 vor 10” at 21:50 on SRF1.