Inter­pel­la­ti­on Nan­ter­mod (21.4447): Pho­to traps and data protection

Inter­pel­la­ti­on Nan­ter­mod (21.4447): Pho­to traps and data protection

Sub­mit­ted text

In its respon­se to the Ros­si­ni inter­pel­la­ti­on 13.1082 the Fede­ral Coun­cil was of the opi­ni­on that the Pho­to traps not a pro­blem from a data pro­tec­tion per­spec­ti­ve and that the exi­sting legis­la­ti­on would be suf­fi­ci­ent. A few years later, it appears that the situa­ti­on has evol­ved in the direc­tion of for­mer Natio­nal Coun­cil­or Rossini’s fears. The num­ber of traps set has lite­ral­ly explo­ded. Accor­ding to the data pro­tec­tion com­mis­sio­ner of the can­ton of Valais, he has recei­ved num­e­rous com­plaints. Wal­kers are being spied on by the owners of the traps. Cri­mi­nal pro­ce­e­dings have been ope­ned on char­ges based exclu­si­ve­ly on the ille­gal evi­dence coll­ec­ted with the­se pho­to traps. A hun­ting war­den joked with ano­ther per­son and said that she had seen them run­ning on a suo­ne. The infor­ma­ti­on to dis­cou­ra­ge the popu­la­ti­on from ste­al­ing the came­ras is abso­lut­e­ly deficient.

So it turns out that with the­se pho­to traps, which in prac­ti­ce beco­me a net­work of sur­veil­lan­ce came­ras in natu­re, In vio­la­ti­on of all data pro­tec­tion regu­la­ti­ons, pro­ba­b­ly cri­mi­nal offen­ses have been com­mit­ted. In view of this situa­ti­on, is the Fede­ral Coun­cil pre­pared to revi­se its assess­ment from 2014, when it still con­side­red the cur­rent legis­la­ti­on to be sufficient?

Is the Fede­ral Coun­cil pre­pared to draw the atten­ti­on of the can­to­nal offices and uni­ver­si­ties that set up the­se traps to their strict obli­ga­ti­ons under data pro­tec­tion law? What does the Fede­ral Coun­cil intend to do to pre­vent the uncon­trol­led spread of pho­to traps? Would it not make sen­se to regu­la­te the use of pho­to traps in the Hun­ting Act (JSG)?

State­ment of the Fede­ral Coun­cil from 16.02.2022

The Fede­ral Coun­cil, in its ans­wers to the que­sti­on of the then Natio­nal Coun­cil­lor Ros­si­ni, has alre­a­dy 13.1082 “Pho­to traps and data pro­tec­tion” and to its que­sti­ons. 14.5068 and 14.5069 “Pho­to­traps. Appli­ca­ti­on of Data Pro­tec­tion” sta­tes that data pro­tec­tion regu­la­ti­ons must be com­plied with when using pho­to traps. The pro­ce­s­sing of per­so­nal data by pri­va­te per­sons and fede­ral bodies is gover­ned by the Fede­ral Data Pro­tec­tion Act (FADP, SR 235.1), while data pro­ce­s­sing by can­to­nal aut­ho­ri­ties (such as uni­ver­si­ties) is gover­ned by the data pro­tec­tion legis­la­ti­on of the can­tons. Per­so­nal data may only be pro­ce­s­sed for the pur­po­se that was sta­ted when the data was obtai­ned, is evi­dent from the cir­cum­stances or is pro­vi­ded for by law (for data pro­tec­tion legis­la­ti­on at the fede­ral level, see Art. 4 para. 3 DSG). The pur­po­se of pho­to traps is not to pro­cess per­so­nal data, but to moni­tor and record wild­life popu­la­ti­ons. Accor­din­gly the pho­to traps are to be ali­gned in such a way that no per­sons are reco­gnizable on the pic­tures. Any pho­tos that nevert­hel­ess allow per­sons to be iden­ti­fi­ed are to be imme­dia­te­ly dele­te. Sto­ring, for­war­ding or publi­shing pho­to­graphs of per­sons or infor­ma­ti­on obtai­ned from them is pro­hi­bi­ted. In addi­ti­on, the unaut­ho­ri­zed recor­ding of other per­sons is punis­ha­ble under cer­tain con­di­ti­ons accor­ding to Artic­le 179quater of the Swiss Penal Code (SR 311.0). In the can­tons of Valais and Grau­bün­den, the use of pho­to traps for hun­ting is pro­hi­bi­ted (Art. 32 para. 7 Imple­men­ting Regu­la­ti­ons to the Hun­ting Law of the Can­ton of Valais and Art. 6 Ordi­nan­ce on Hun­ting in the Can­ton of Grau­bün­den). Fur­ther­mo­re, the Can­ton of Zurich and the Swiss Hun­ting Asso­cia­ti­on have published gui­de­lines on the use of pho­to traps.

Whe­ther in prac­ti­ce the use of pho­to traps vio­la­tes data pro­tec­tion regu­la­ti­ons and cri­mi­nal law stan­dards must be asses­sed on a case-by-case basis by the super­vi­so­ry aut­ho­ri­ties and the courts. The FDPIC is respon­si­ble for super­vi­sing com­pli­ance with data pro­tec­tion law with regard to regu­la­ti­ons at fede­ral level, and the data pro­tec­tion aut­ho­ri­ties of the can­tons with regard to regu­la­ti­ons at can­to­nal level. Under the total­ly revi­sed FADP, the FDPIC will open an inve­sti­ga­ti­on ex offi­cio or upon noti­fi­ca­ti­on if the­re are suf­fi­ci­ent indi­ca­ti­ons that a breach of data pro­tec­tion regu­la­ti­ons has occur­red. Fur­ther­mo­re, the FDPIC will be able to issue rulings, the dis­re­gard of which will be punis­ha­ble by law if the cor­re­spon­ding thre­at is made. Pho­to traps com­mis­sio­ned by the fede­ral govern­ment are signal­ed with signs naming the ope­ra­tor. The gui­de­lines adopted by the can­ton of Zurich con­tain simi­lar pro­vi­si­ons for use by pri­va­te indi­vi­du­als. Per­sons who suspect that they have been pho­to­gra­phed can cont­act the per­son in char­ge and, based on the data pro­tec­tion legis­la­ti­on, request infor­ma­ti­on about the data pro­ce­s­sing and the dele­ti­on or des­truc­tion of the cor­re­spon­ding pho­tos. In addi­ti­on, the per­sons con­cer­ned have the opti­on of tur­ning to the super­vi­so­ry or judi­cial aut­ho­ri­ties. Howe­ver, the incre­a­sing­ly fre­quent use of pho­to traps for hun­ting pur­po­ses is caus­ing con­cern among the rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties. This is not only due to data pro­tec­tion con­cerns, but also in par­ti­cu­lar with regard to the pro­tec­tion of wild­life, for which the fede­ral govern­ment is respon­si­ble (cf. Art. 79 and 80 para. 1 of the Swiss Fede­ral Con­sti­tu­ti­on, SR 101). If ani­mals are per­ma­nent­ly moni­to­red for their hun­ting by using pho­to traps as an aid, this can have a detri­men­tal effect on the con­ser­va­ti­on of the ani­mals con­cer­ned. The Fede­ral Coun­cil will the­r­e­fo­re exami­ne at the next oppor­tu­ni­ty whe­ther a regu­la­ti­on on the use of pho­to traps for hun­ting is necessary.




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