Supporters of the Swiss counterattack on the clouds target the Federal Council

These were only messages on Twitter so far. It is now an official text, with a specific purpose, supported by Swiss personalities and companies. This spring, the consortium’s announcement that five foreign service providers – four Americans and one Chinese – had been selected for the “Swiss cloud” drew heavy criticism. From now on, these criticisms are embodied in the form of detailed requests, which from Monday could intervene under the Federal Dome, during the fall session of the Houses.

“utterly absurd”

The case of the “Swiss cloud” began last winter, when Geneva-based Infomaniak rose in columns weather In exchange for a federal tender for cloud computing services. According to Infomaniak, the appeal was worded in such a way – including a requirement that service providers have data centers on three continents – that immediately excluded Swiss companies. And at the end of June, the consortium presented the list of winners, for contracts that could total up to 110 million francs: the Americans Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM, as well as the Chinese Alibaba.

Read also: Surprise, Union was made available in China for its own cloud

Google appealed, which was unsuccessful, and must be heard by the Federal Administrative Court. In parallel, mobilization is taking place in Switzerland, led by Fathi Derder, who unites the fight launched by Infomaniac. The former PLR National Council member from Vaud plans to mobilize parliamentarians from French and German-speaking countries, starting next week, to ask questions to the Federal Council. “The strategy of the authorities is incomprehensible. During his visit to Berne, Fathi Derder, who is known, affirms his commitment to the digital world. In June 2019, I submitted a proposal calling for the implementation of a strategy for Swiss digital sovereignty. But the Federal Council removed my proposal, deeming it unnecessary and unrealistic. In 2020, The authorities ordered a study on the feasibility of the “Swiss cloud” … and then entrusted it to foreign companies. It is completely absurd.” Contacted Thursday, the Federal Chancellery declined to respond due to Google’s appeal, which is still pending.

Associated with this movement are the directors of the start-up companies ELCA, Infomaniak, Proton and OneVisage, as well as the Data Protection Officer at Valais Sébastien Fanti, Alexis Roussel, Director of Nym Technologies and Jean-Henri Morin, Professor of Information Systems at the University of Geneva. After that, German-speaking representatives will be searched. “We ask the Federal Council to create a Swiss cloud consortium, led by Swiss companies, Swiss research institutes or even multinational companies investing in research centers in Switzerland. In this Swiss cloud the sensitive data of Swiss citizens will be stored,” continues Fathi Derder. It is also possible that international human rights organizations, based in Geneva, may use such online services.

ELCA worried

ELCA, an activist in the field of information technology, is fully committed to this idea. “I am concerned that the consortium agrees to give the keys to our data to foreign actors, who are known not to have an interest in protecting the private sphere,” says Christoph Gerber, director of cybersecurity at ELCA. According to him, the Federal Council should have ambition: “No Swiss company can create a sovereign cloud on its own. But it is better for the Federal Council to delegate a task and sensitive tasks to a consortium of Swiss companies. Here, we have all the skills to process sensitive data of Swiss citizens.”

Thus, the signatories to this invitation are not claiming the aforementioned call for the cancellation of bids, but for the creation of a Swiss consortium for the management of certain information. In a second step, a grassroots initiative could be launched. Swissdatasovereignty.ch is the basis for this Swiss Cloud call.

Swisscom “watches”

For Andy Yen, director of Geneva-based Proton that provides secure services, “The decision to award contracts to foreign companies to store data threatens the privacy of Swiss residents and harms the country’s economic competitiveness. Switzerland has a global reputation for privacy and stability, but a series of Government decisions have put this reputation at risk.” According to Andy Yen, it is essential that sensitive data relating to Swiss residents in Switzerland is stored by Swiss companies. Note that Proton data is stored in data centers in Geneva and Zurich.

Read also: Infomaniac warns “Switzerland has given up its digital sovereignty”

Swisscom, which has a large data center in Bern, cautions about this initiative. “We did not apply for this contract because the consortium’s invitation to bid was expressly directed at so-called global public cloud service providers. We do not take a position on this issue but continue to monitor what may be placed in the future,” says a spokesperson for the operator, which owns Union 51% of it.

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