Digital Self-Determination

We the citizens demand what is naturally our own: The right to control our own personal data. Digital self-determination must become a basic right!

Since the 25th of May, new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect in all member states of the European Union (EU)

Every EU citizen now has the right to obtain a copy of his or her own personal data and to use it at will (EU GDPR, Art. 20 Right to data portability)

We demand equal right for Swiss citizens. The right to data portability must be integrated also into the Swiss data protection law as soon as possible:

DPL Ar. 25a (new) Right to Data Portability
1 Every person has the right to obtain respective personal data in a structured, prevalent, and machine-readable format.
2 Every person also has a right to grant access to or to transmit own data to accountable third party, without interference from the data provider.
3 The accountable data provider can deny, restrict or delay access to data, if legal interest of another party prevails.

A right to obtain a copy of our own data

We lost our digital self-determination

Our personal data related to our health, fitness, consumer habits, and education are routinely and constantly collected. This happens in many ways: With Apps, sensors in smart phones, at cash points in retail stores, via the web browser. Nowadays, personal data are a resource and constitute an important economical basis. Data are the infrastructure of the 21st. century.

Typically, we pay for online services not with money, but with our data: Cumulus membership is “free of charge”, webbrowsers can be downloaded and installed for free. But our own personal data are not stored under our own control. As a consequence we have become dependent on large corporations and data firms; we lost most of our digital self-determination. However, we can re-institute digital self-determination if we succeed to regain control over the use of our personal data.

The three properties of person-related data

Data are easy to copy

In contrast to physical objects, data can be copied at virtually no cost. A copy then allows for another use. A physician is obliged to store medical data for 10 years and has to provide the patient with a copy of his or her personal medical record. In this manner, the patient can take the record to another physician to obtain a second opinion or to grant access to scientists for participation in a research project. However, for many other collectors of our personal data this obligation does not apply.

We are all data billionaires

All people have or generate similar amount of person-related data. We are all billionaires with respect to our genome data, as we all have 6 billion base pairs in our genetic material. This is similarly valid for the number of steps we take or our heart beats.

Only the individual can aggregate all its personal data

Data related to my own person are of great value for me: In the future, we will be able to predict disease based on e.g. location, food consumption, sport, blood pressure, family history, and blood values. At the same time, we will be better at treating disease based on person-related data. Only the individual will know where these data are stored and only the individual will be able to aggregate them all. Therefore, only the individual will be able to take full advantage of his or her personal data.

In conclusion: The right to obtain a copy of our personal data will enable us to practice digital self-determination and to use them in our own best interest and to the benefit of society as a whole.

Let us re-establish digital self-determination by chartering data portability: A right to copies of our own personal data

The Swiss Federal Government and Economiesuisse are both against data portability and do not want to grant individuals the right to obtain a copy of their own personal data. In 2015, Fathi Derder (National Council and member of the Swiss Liberal Democratic Party) handed a corresponding postulate to the Swiss Federal Council. The postulate was considered, but rejected and data portability is not included in the current revision of the Swiss data protection law.


André Golliez

André Golliez

André Golliez, IT Consultant, president of OpenData.ch und CEO of the Swiss Data Alliance

“Digital self-determination will promote a fair and successful data economy!”

Ursula Uttinger

Ursula Uttinger

President Datenschutz-Forum, data protection specialist

“1984” is now reality. Let us prevent that also “the circle” comes true!

Balthasar Glättli

Balthasar Glättli

National Council FDP

Member of the parliamentary group Digital Sustainability

Doris Fiala

Doris Fiala

National Council, Liberal Democratic Party of Switzerland

The right to obtain a copy of one’s personal data is a (liberal) basic right.

Thomas Gächter

Thomas Gächter

Prof. for constitutional law, administrative law, and social security law at the University of Zurich.