The Swiss prosecution authorities may order post and telecommunications surveillance measures for the purpose of investigating serious criminal offences based on the Swiss Criminal Procedure Code. Such measures may also be ordered by the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) under the Intelligence Service Act (ISA; SR 121), which came into force on 1 September 2017.

In connection with the full revision of the Federal Act on Post and Telecommunications Surveillance (BÜPF/APTS) of 1 March 2018, the Post and Telecommunications Surveillance Service (PTSS) introduced a new method for counting statistical data. In order to ensure comparability with the data of recent years, the figures obtained using the original counting method are provided alongside those obtained using the new counting method (for more information on the new counting method, please refer to the press release). However, FIS and PTSS figures are not comparable due to a different counting method. 

In 2018, approximately 35% of these surveillance measures were ordered by prosecution authorities or the FIS for the purpose of investigating serious offences against property; 34% concerned serious offences against the Narcotics Act, and 8% offences against life and limb. The remainder related to other types of offences, including felonies and misdemeanours against liberty and offences against sexual integrity. The number of surveillance measures ordered remained stable at 7,950 (compared with the same figure the previous year). 

Since the introduction of the new APTS, Articles 269bis and 269ter of the Swiss Criminal Procedure Code have allowed the use of special technical devices (IMSI catchers) and computer software (govware) for telecommunications surveillance. 
In 2018, no operations conducted using special computer software were recorded. Special technical devices was used a total of 84 times. 

See the detailed statistics 2011-2018 under Publications.

Orders year-on-year rate


The number of surveillance orders fell by 16% to 7,558 in 2018 according to the new counting method. In particular, the number of real-time and retroactive surveillance orders remained stable, and emergency searches increased by 5%. The tracing of persons on whom a custodial sentence has been imposed has only been possible since the new APTS came into force and was ordered 6 times.

The number of emergency searches carried out in 2018 rose by around 5% to 651 (compared with 618 the previous year). The number of real-time emergency searches increased considerably, which is attributable to the fully revised APTS and the new and extended types of emergency searches.

So-called complex information (e.g. copies of ID or contract data), which can now be ordered directly by the police, recorded a significant increase of around 64%, totalling 5,732 (compared with 3,501 the previous year).

Telephone directory or IP address queries fell by around 11% to 153,981 (compared with 172,186 the previous year).

Orders by entity

${ getCantonName(canton) } ${ year_selected_canton }

Real-time monitoring
Real-time surveillance is the simultaneous, slightly delayed or periodic transmission of post or telecommunications data, for example telephone or email monitoring (listening in on telephone conversations or reading of email messages).
${ surveillance_breakdown.echtzeit }
Retroactive monitoring
Retroactive surveillance concerns, in particular, all telephone records (who called whom, when and for how long etc.) relating to the previous six months.
${ surveillance_breakdown.ruckwirkend }
Information (complex)
Complex information (previously termed "technical/administrative information") provides more detailed information relating to telecommunications connections such as copies of contracts or ID.
${ surveillance_breakdown.auskunfte }
Information (simple)
Simple information can be basic information on subscriber access (telephone directory enquiries) or can provide the authorities with information on questions such as "Which telephone numbers are registered to a particular person?".
${ surveillance_breakdown.einfache }
Tracing of persons
The prosecution authorities can track down persons on whom a custodial sentence has been imposed or against whom a measure involving deprivation of liberty has been ordered in a legally binding and enforceable decision.
${ surveillance_breakdown.fahndung }
Emergency search
As well as for criminal proceedings, telecommunications surveillance measures can be ordered for the purpose of finding and rescuing missing persons such as hikers involved in accidents or missing children.
${ surveillance_breakdown.notsuche }

The mobile network is by far the most monitored.

The measures most frequently ordered are those for the purpose of investigating serious offences against property at around 35%. Serious offences against the Narcotics Act account for 34% of the measures ordered, followed by orders for criminal offences against life and limb (8%) and felonies and misdemeanours against liberty (3%).

Swisscom executed the most orders (34%), followed by Sunrise (30%), Salt (20%) and Lycamobile (13%).

Orders by entity

Last updated: 06.11.2019 - 08:25