February 05, 2014

Switzerland: Foreign firms can't bid computer and communication tenders

swissinfo.ch and agencies
February 5, 2014 - 18:55

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Foreign_firms_frozen_out_of_IT_contracts.html?cid=37893576

The Swiss cabinet has decided that foreign firms will no longer be able to bid for important government computer and communication tenders, reacting to allegations that foreign intelligence services have been carrying out illegal activities in Switzerland.
Invoking state security, cabinet said that service contracts for “vital” central infrastructure would only be awarded when possible to Swiss-based companies with a majority of local shareholders and providing those services from Switzerland.

The new rules cover contracts with the army as well as for mobile phones and computers. The decision is the result of talks within the cabinet about potential risks to government infrastructure, announced by the finance ministry on Wednesday.

The decision comes after the Federal Prosecutor's Office launched in November a full-blown investigation on the basis of a “genuine suspicion” of surveillance by foreign secret services.

There had already been preliminary investigations into alleged US spying activities in Switzerland revealed by former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in June. Special mandates were given to the justice, foreign and finance ministries to seek further clarifications about possible NSA snooping on Swiss soil with a view to “adopting definite measures”.

Snowden had allegedly worked for the CIA in Geneva in 2007 under the guise of a diplomat. It was here, he said, that he first encountered the scale of the snooping operation. Washington told Switzerland after the revelations that the US respected Swiss laws.

However, in October the German magazine Der Spiegel claimed, based on a 2010 document provided by Snowden, that the US embassy in Geneva houses a powerful joint NSA-CIA electronic monitoring station.


Investigations into alleged spying on Swiss soil have taken a new turn with the Federal Prosecutor's Office opening criminal proceedings on the basis of a “genuine suspicion” of surveillance by foreign secret services.
“Various clarifications are under way, and will be later examined,” the office told the Swiss News Agency, confirming reports in two Swiss Sunday newspapers.

In particular, article 271 of the penal code, which lists punishable acts by a foreign state, had been broken, according to the office. It would not comment further on other aspects of the proceedings.

A request to open an investigation has been presented to the cabinet.

According to reports in Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung, the probe would focus primarily on spying activities by the United States.
Snowden fallout

Last month the Swiss government announced it had widened investigations into alleged US spying activities in Switzerland revealed by former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. Special mandates were given to the justice, foreign and finance ministries to seek further clarifications about possible NSA snooping on Swiss soil with a view to “adopting definite measures”.

Back in June Snowden told The Guardian newspaper that he had worked for the CIA in Geneva in 2007 under the guise of a diplomat. It was here, he said, that he first encountered the scale of the snooping operation. He also described how the CIA recruited a Geneva banker by purposely getting him drunk and then helping him after he was arrested whilst driving.

Washington has told Switzerland the US respected Swiss laws.

However, in October the German Der Spiegel magazine claimed, based on a 2010 document provided by Snowden, that the US embassy in Geneva houses a powerful joint NSA-CIA electronic monitoring station.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer has said Swiss government had never had any contact with the NSA and denied speculation that Switzerland had exchanged data with the agency. The government has condemned any sort of intelligence activities by a foreign service in Switzerland.

swissinfo.ch and agencies
November 13, 2013 - 15:13
The Swiss government says it has widened its investigation into alleged US spying activities in Switzerland revealed by former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The cabinet announced on Wednesday that it had given special mandates to the justice, foreign and finance ministries to seek further clarifications about possible NSA snooping on Swiss soil with a view to “adopting definite measures”.

The controversy has alarmed certain parliamentarians. The Swiss government is facing calls for political measures and the parliamentary committee that oversees the Swiss intelligence services wants information about possible collaboration with the NSA. It announced on Tuesday that it had requested additional documentation.

Meanwhile, the Green Party wants to organise a special debate on the issue during the next parliamentary session, while the Social Democrats are calling for a parliamentary enquiry.

In June Snowden told The Guardian newspaper that he had worked for the CIA in Geneva in 2007 under the guise of a diplomat. It was here, he said, that he first encountered the scale of the snooping operation. He also described how the CIA recruited a Geneva banker by purposely getting him drunk and then helping him after he was arrested whilst driving.

The Swiss government immediately sought explanations from Washington and was told the US had respected Swiss laws. In September it announced it had ordered the defence ministry to continue an investigation into possible US spying.

In October the German Der Spiegel magazine claimed, based on a 2010 document provided by Snowden, that the US embassy in Geneva houses a powerful joint NSA-CIA electronic monitoring station.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer told reporters the Swiss government had never had any contact with the NSA and denied speculation that Switzerland had exchanged data with the agency. However, he said Switzerland was cooperating with the US in the fight against terrorism.

However, Spain's El Mundo newspaper in October published new documents based on Snowden leaks showing Switzerland as one of 19 countries participating in "Focused Cooperation" with the NSA.

The government on Wednesday again condemned any sort of intelligence activities by a foreign service in Switzerland.

It recalled that alongside Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein it had submitted an initiative to the United Nations Human Rights Council to protect individual privacy. Switzerland also supports a similar resolution presented by Germany and Brazil to the UN General Assembly.

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