Switzerland is known for its neutral posture and for keeping an independent approach, in spite of being located in the heart of Europe. This different way of tackling things is evident when it comes to copyright infringement, internet surveillance and data retention legislation. Since the country is not a member of the European Union, it is not subject to the EU Data Retention Directive.
However, the country introduced its own legislation in the matter between 2000 and 2002. The laws in Switzerland establish that Internet Service Providers are required to log IP addresses and web servers access data. The data is to be retained for 6 months and the requirements extend to mobile and land line phone companies.
The government in Switzerland has sufficient powers to carry out internet surveillance and can go as far as employing spyware in cases deemed as serious offences. This includes criminal activity, terrorism financing and child exploitation. It is worth keeping in mind that these methods are only allowed when law enforcement authorities can demonstrate that a crime was committed and are not permitted as preventive measures.
Arguing that surveillance is needed in order to enhance the security of the nation, the government has looked for ways to increase its ability to monitor communications. For this purpose, additional organizations, including schools, hotels and hospitals could be required to cooperate with the authorities, although they are not expected to carry out the surveillance on their own. The situation for privacy is concerning and it shows that using a VPN in Switzerland is necessary in order to keep your information protected.
In spite of the concerns about privacy in Switzerland, there are good news. First of all, VPNs are not subject to the mandatory data retention laws in the country. This means that providers are not required to keep logs of customers’ activities. On top of that, piracy for personal purposes is not considered illegal. In 2010, copyright enforcement legal firm Logistep AG got in trouble for collecting IP addresses of users that were suspected of copyright infringement. The Swiss High Court ruled that the firm was breaching the country’s privacy laws.
Although the entertainment industry campaigned for a change in the law, arguing that it damaged its business and resulted in loss of profits, a study commissioned by the Swiss government concluded that although a large percentage of the population were involved in illegal downloading, this didn’t affected the amount of money that people were spending on entertainment. This confirmed the findings from a previous study in the Netherlands, which established that somehow, those involved in piracy were more likely to spend money on media, buy events’ tickets, etc.
Furthermore, the study came to the conclusion that piracy was practically impossible to prevent and the only option would be that the entertainment industry looked for alternatives to catch up in the game, ensuring its survival by meeting the audience’s demands. Based on the results of the study, no changes were implemented on the legislation and no websites were blocked as it was deemed that this would be a violation of freedom of speech and privacy protection laws.
Using a VPN in Switzerland
Although there is a “friendly” attitude towards torrenting, users in Switzerland should still consider using a VPN since privacy is not exempt from threats. Protecting your communications from surveillance is possible with the help of a good VPN. While generally it is advisable to connect to VPN servers outside your country in order to disguise your location and prevent that any data is handed over to local authorities (in case the country is subject to data retention), Switzerland offers a good situation in this regards since logs are not required for VPN providers.
Additionally, their lax approach to online piracy make it a good location for torrenting in the same line as countries like Romania and the Netherlands. Whether you want to protect your privacy in Switzerland or live abroad and wish to connect to servers in that country, here are the best VPNs for Switzerland.
ExpressVPN has been working over the years to offer a service that is fast, secure and reliable and it is clear that they have succeeded. They have a large selection of servers (over 80 countries are covered) and Switzerland and other countries in Europe are included in the list. Their customer service is remarkable and although the price of the service is above other options, your are paying for great quality overall.
The top technology supported by AirVPN make it ideal for users who require advanced features, but this also means that those with less experience may find it slightly complicated. Still, the high level of encryption along with impressive options like VPN over Tor, VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels are enough reasons to opt for this Italian provider. Their commitment with privacy and online freedom is the core of their service, after all, AirVPN was founded by a group of hacktivists who met a Pirate Party festival.
Private Internet Access
PIA has earned fans around the world thanks to its high security, good speed and privacy protection. Best of all, the provider’s plans offer great value for money and they don’t keep logs of users’ activity. It is possible to pay using Bitcoin for enhanced privacy and the use of shared IPs will make it more difficult for anyone to identify you. They have servers in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania and P2P is allowed. Up to five simultaneous connections are supported.
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which makes it less vulnerable to intensive surveillance and strict data retention laws. The VPN client offers all the necessary options to enjoy good privacy protection and the possibility to bypass censorship and access the content you want. There are servers in 141 countries, which is more than most providers offer. PureVPN offers affordable plans and practical features like split tunneling and a solid no logs policy.
Apart from having a quirky image and an appealing free VPN, CyberGhost deserves to be considered due to its sleek Windows VPN client. It features VPN kill switch and easy access to all the servers in the network. They have servers in 29 countries and since they are based in Romania, they can support a solid no logs policy. Bitcoin is accepted as method of payment and the company is committed to help customers to keep their data private.