Binary Leaks: Switzerland's e-government plans
News leak in the Feuill-It-Ong: In our satire format, a shrewd special reporter reveals Switzerland's e-government plans – binary leaks, so to speak.
by Tabea Ulla Thor
We have already talked about this in depth: Switzerland is moving forward in terms of digitalisation. In this context, e-government too is on the rise. Good for everyone? Apparently not. Although around 92 percent of the Swiss see added value in the digital state apparatus, many citizens are unsettled: What does the state intend to do with my sensitive data? And even if the state itself does not play fast and loose with it: Can the state protect my data in such a way that no one else does either? So far, the authorities have kept their plans secret.
An unfortunate move, because nothing leaves more space for wild speculation than a lack of information! We, too, have been infected by this and have hired a woman for delicate missions: Investigative journalist, special reporter and headline queen Tabea Ulla Thor has dived into the underworld of the smoldering rumor mill, risking much, indeed almost everything, and has allegedly brought top-secret documents into her possession that bring the plans to light. Read now exclusively what Tabea Ulla Thor has found out:
Fears about the lack of data protection have by now probably also reached the government and triggered a complete rethinking. Those responsible at the Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern (EDI) have now moved away from a centralised data processing system, as 100 percent security can hardly be guaranteed. According to rumours, an innovative solution that keeps responsibility away from those in charge is supposed look like this:
- Instead of an opaque, uniform system with which all citizens must interact, the implementation of e-government should take place individually on the part of the citizens.
- According to the paper, all authorities and bodies should continue to work as analogously as possible. In this way, any data protection concerns about the change can be nipped in the bud. All official documents can be picked up in person at the respective offices in paper form, as before, or ordered for mailing via an online portal (→ digitalization).
- In order to still be able to take advantage of digitalization, every citizen will instead be provided with a digital help bot that can be trained to order application forms and other documents online in an automated manner and even fill them out independently. The bot system (working title: Opus EDI) is currently being developed in collaboration with Orange and IBM. The first alpha tests are expected in 2027.
- For the bot to be able to perform its tasks, the forms must be scanned (→ digitalized) at home after they are received in the mail using a certified high-performance scanner. Households that do not have an appropriate scanner have the option of scanning the documents received by mail at the nearest municipal citizen service center on a public scanner, saving them on a USB stick and transferring them to their own computer system at home.
All official documents can be picked up in person at the respective offices in paper form, as before, or ordered for mailing via an online portal (→ digitalization).
The election procedure and the referendums, which are extremely popular in Switzerland, are also to be noticeably simplified by the possibilities of the digital world. In order to combine maximum data security with futuristic technology here as well, the government is apparently planning the following:
- In the future, the ballot can be conducted conveniently from home by voting drone. The drone must be accompanied by the identity card and the voting card for checking at the ballot box.
- It is not yet clear whether the drones will only be available to one citizen at a time due to the secrecy of the ballot, or whether a drone that has completed a ballot will then for efficiency reasons be handed over to other voters.
- One possible solution currently under discussion is to cooperate with the mail-order giant Amazon who could envision making such a personalised drone available to all citizens capable of voting in the future. Amazon would also take care of data security. What the Internet giant wants from the government in return, however, is currently still open.
So far, it is unclear whether the drones are only available to one citizen at a time for life due to the secrecy of the ballot, or whether a drone that has completed a ballot will then for efficiency reasonsbe handed over to other voters.
Even though the plans promise all the advantages of classic e-government with strict adherence to data protection, only practice will be able to tell how much these plans will be accepted by citizens. For example, there is no word on how the government plans to introduce the older generations, who have had little exposure to deep-learning AIs and drones, to the new technologies.
It is not yet known when the government will officially present the plans. However, we will of course keep you up to date.
*Our "Feuill-IT-on" format is created in collaboration with the two freelance writers Tobias Lauterbach und Daniel Al-Kabbani who occasionally contribute to the satire platform "Der Postillon". Under the pseudonyms Strigalt von Entf, and Tabea Ulla Thor they report on current events from the world of technology – always with a wink! ;-)