The Free Internet Project


Summary: Switzerland recognizes freedom of speech, freedom of the media and right to privacy in its constitution. Switzerland lacks ISP safe harbors and does not have a law that requires net neutrality.  Telecom providers have signed a voluntary code of conduct that providers will not discriminate against content. 

Internet freedoms:

(1) Free speech  

The Constitution recognizes the freedom of expression in Article 16: “Freedom of expression and of information is guaranteed. Every person has the right freely to form, express and impart their opinions. Every person has the right freely to receive information to gather it from generally accessible sources and to disseminate it.”  [English text] 

The Constitution also protects freedom of the media in Article 17, which expressly prohibits censorship.  However, some restrictions are allowed, such as a ban against racist hate speech and denying crimes against humanity.   

The Internet is generally free of restrictions, according to the U.S. State Department 2015 Human Rights report.

(2) Privacy

Article 13 of Switzerland's Constitution protects a right of privacy: "Every person has the right to privacy in their private life and family life and in their  home, and in relation to their mail and telecommunications. Every person has the right to be protected against the misuse of their personal data.” [English text]

Switzerland has personal data protection provided by the Federal Act on Data Protection of 19 June 1992, the implementing Ordinance to the Federal Act on Data Protection, and the Ordinance on Data Protection Certification.  EU Data Protection Directive.  The Swiss law is similar to and compliant with the level of data protection in the EU Data Protection Directive.  Switzerland is considering revisions to its data protection law in 2016.  

(3) Access 

Switzerland does not guarantee a legal right to Internet access.  According to 2013 ITU figures, Switzerland had an 86.70% Internet penetration with 6,932,55 users. 

ISP safe harbors: 

Switzerland does not have ISP safe harbors. 

Net neutrality:  

Switzerland does not have a law that governs net neutrality. However, five major telecom providers voluntarily signed a code of conduct that the providers will not discriminate against content.  [English text]