Various IT law topics will again be dealt with in the 2021 autumn session. The efforts to simplify international e-commerce and the proposal to examine the electronic collection of signatures for initiatives and referendums should be highlighted.

IT Law topics in the National Council:

  • Postulate: Electronic collection of signatures for initiatives and referenda. This postulate of the National Council’s State Policy Committee is intended to instruct the Federal Council to prepare a report on the subject of e-collecting. In particular, the effect on the interplay between the institutions on all federal levels, as well as the potential consequences for the political system of Switzerland are of interest. Among other things, this should be done with regard to the constitutionally defined quorums and deadlines as well as the differences in the collection of signatures in the public and digital space. The Federal Council proposes that the postulate be accepted.
  • Postulate: Additions regarding cyberbullying in the Criminal Code. This postulate is intended to instruct the Federal Council to draw up a report on how cyberbullying and digital violence can be punished through appropriate amendments to the Criminal Code (SCC). This is a Commission postulate that was adopted by the Legal Affairs Commission at the same time as the parliamentary initiative “New criminal offense of cyberbullying” was accepted.
  • Postulate: Energy efficiency potential of data centers. This postulate from the National Council’s Committee for Science, Education and Culture is intended to demand that the Federal Council evaluate the energy efficiency potential of data centers and, in particular, clarify how the supply and operation of these centers can be ensured with renewable energies. In the justification of the postulate, reference is made to a study on the energy consumption of data centers in Switzerland, which is available here. The Federal Council proposes to reject the postulate because it does not consider a further evaluation to be necessary.

IT law topics in the Council of States:

  • Motion: International e-commerce. Efficient control procedures at the Federal Customs Administration. Because e-commerce business is steadily increasing, the purpose of this motion is to call on the Federal Council to streamline the regulatory control and procedural requirements and to take the measures necessary for proper implementation. This applies to both customs law and non-customs law requirements. The Federal Council proposes that the motion be accepted; it has already been adopted in the National Council.
  • Digital transformation in healthcare. Finally catch up! The purpose of this motion is to instruct the Federal Council to make substantial progress in the digital transformation of the healthcare system, taking its cue from the impact of other successfully digitized healthcare systems in the OECD. The Federal Council requests the rejection of the motion. It argues the constitution has not provided the Confederation with a competence to regulate in the field of healthcare. Further it makes reference to the referred postulates “Coherent data strategy for healthcare” and “Better use of healthcare data for high-quality and efficient healthcare”.
  • Motion: Social media campaign against bullying and cyberbullying among children and young people. This motion is intended to instruct the Federal Council to launch a national campaign about bullying and cyberbullying. This initiative should aim at raising awareness among children and young people of the negative consequences of bullying and cyberbullying and should help drawing attention to the possible consequences under criminal law. From prevention perspective, the focus should be to target the perpetrators and the bystanders. The Federal Council proposes the acceptance of the motion that has already been accepted by the National Council.
  • Interpellation: Digital sovereignty. How does the Federal Council intend to ensure that the risk of Huawei monitoring Swiss telecommunications networks is limited, and what measures will it take? With this interpellation, the Federal Council was asked five questions related to the risk of Huawei monitoring Swiss telecommunications networks. In its response, the Federal Council pointed out, among other things, that one of the tasks of telecommunications service providers is to assess potential risks that could be associated with the use of telecommunications technology. The Federal Council added that the Confederation has no authority to influence the procurement of network equipment by telecommunications service providers. Switzerland is dependent on foreign technology for digitization, and it is unlikely that national alternatives to the prevailing hardware and software solutions of foreign providers (China, USA) can be developed in the foreseeable future.
  • Interpellation: E-voting. Support for the pioneer cantons? With this interpellation, the Federal Council was asked questions about a financial participation of the Confederation in the costs of the cantons in connection with the introduction of electronic voting. In its answer, the Federal Council states that the Confederation has two instruments at its disposal for the co-financing of cantonal project costs: The costs can be co-financed via the implementation plan of eGovernment Switzerland or its successor organization Digital Public Services (DPS) as well as partly based on the Swiss Abroad Act (Art. 21 SAA) and the Ordinance on the Swiss Abroad (Art. 15 SAO).