ADM Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Switzerland

New report: 'Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective' by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung – a special issue of the upcoming Automating Society Report 2020, to be published in October.

Country analysis: Switzerland

By Nadja Braun Binder and Catherine Egli 

Corona App

As in many European countries, Switzerland recently addressed the current COVID-19 situation with a digital contact tracing app.

The official launch took place on 25 June 2020. Upon installation of the so-called “SwissCovid App” (installation is voluntary), the smartphone sends encrypted IDs via Bluetooth at regular intervals. Other smartphones will monitor such reports and store all IDs they have received. The prerequisite is that they have come closer than 1.5 meters for 15 minutes during a day.

If a SwissCovid App user tests positive for the corona virus, he/she receives a code (Covidcode). Only if the person who tested positive activates the messaging function by entering the Covidcode, the other app users are notified if they were in close contact with this person. This notification is automatic and anonymous after the Covidcode has been entered.

The app uses a decentralized approach to data storage. The information which devices have been encountered remains on the smartphones themselves. No personal or location data is sent to a central storage location or server. When the coronavirus crisis is over, or if the app proves ineffective, the system will be shut down.

Prior to the official launch of the SwissCovid App, the app was tested. The legal grounds for the app's pilot trial can be found in the federal ordinance published on 13 May 2020. The regulation of the pilot trial was repealed on 25 June 2020.

The legal basis for the SwissCovid App can now be found in the Epidemics Act. The legislation procedure was passed very quickly by Swiss standards. The Federal Council has submitted a corresponding bill to parliament on 20 May.

In its June session, parliament approved the legal basis for the App and made only minor adjustments to the draft law. It is based on the Data Protection Act and regulates the organisation, operation, processed data and use of the app. Parliament approved the amendment on 19 June 2020.

Download the full report as PDF (1 MB).