Legal underpinnings

In focus

Two central principles of statistical activity Professional independence and data protection

The political authorities (ie the Federal Council or Parliament) decide which aspects of our society, economy and the environment are to be regularly surveyed with the limited resources available to public statistics. However, the methods used to survey, analyze and disseminate the statistical information must be decided by the public statistical unit on an expert, independent basis in order to obtain as true a picture of reality as possible, and not one which is influenced and distorted by certain wishes. To protect it against non-objective influence, the SFSO requires legislation concerning its professional independence. This also provides a warranty for the acceptance of statistical findings as credible by all users, irrespective of their political and economic interests.

Data protection and individual privacy are fundamental principles of public statistical work, and statistical secrecy is regulated in the 1992 Federal Statistics Act. This decree was the first example of data protection regulation at federal level in Switzerland. Information obtained by the Confederation through statistical surveys may only be used for statistical purposes, and any exceptions must be regulated by law. Statistical secrecy is used to ensure that data about private individuals, companies or businesses are not used for administrative, control, taxation or supervisory activities. It also forbids publication of the findings in a form that allows conclusions to be drawn about private individuals or legal entities. Statistical secrecy is supported by organizational measures, eg through the obligation of all persons entrusted with confidential data to maintain secrecy.


Federal Statistical Office Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuch√Ętel



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