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Switzerland can now use GPS and drones to fight benefit fraud

Staff Writer |
The Swiss parliament signed off on laws that will allow for suspected benefit cheats to tracked by GPS and drones with a judge's sign off.

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The vote comes after European and federal Swiss courts ruled recently that Switzerland’s workplace accident (Suva) and disability insurance (IV) agencies had carried out extensive surveillance on suspected cheats without having the necessary legal backing, The Local reported.

But after yesterday’s parliamentary vote, all of Switzerland’s social welfare agencies, the unemployment office included, have the go-ahead to use private detectives to investigate people they believe may be abusing the system.

Critically, the new rules also allow for insurance agencies to make voice and video recordings of suspected cheats in both public areas and private areas that are clearly visible from a public location – such as balconies and gardens – without a judge’s sign off.

Benefit agencies will also be track suspected cheats using tools such as GPS with a judge’s sign off, with Social Affairs Minister Alain Berset warning that using drones to locate individuals was not out of the question.

Switzerland’s conservative parties welcomed the result of the vote saying it allowed welfare agencies to continue their current surveillance strategies.

They cited the example of the canton of Graubünden where authorities had ordered surveillance in 46 cases out of a total of 5,000. In 16 of those cases, people were found to be cheating, with a cost saving to the taxpayer of 2.6 million francs.

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