Data protection: What data do companies collect about me?

We show you how you can use a request for information (see template) to find out what data is collected about you.

The answer in detail

What data is collected about me?

Whenever we use customer cards or do online shopping, we leave a data trail behind us. Companies collect this in order to adapt their products, design new customer services, and analyze our purchasing behavior. Would you like to know what data companies are collecting about you? The Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP) gives every person the right to demand information from the holders of a data collection about the data held on them and to have that data modified (Art. 8 FADP).
Based on a "request for information", the holder of the data collection must provide the person concerned with the following information:

  • all of the data about them that is in the data collection
  • the origin of this data
  • the purpose and the legal basis of the data processing
  • categories (i.e. not the names) of those involved in the data collection (e.g. underwriting, debt collection)
  • categories (i.e. not the names) of the data recipients (e.g. attorneys, government authorities)
  • The holder can refuse to supply limit, or delay the issue of this information if this is provided for under the law – e.g. in the case of details that are subject to legal privilege.

The right to information can also be limited – provided this is necessary in the predominant interest of a third party. This can apply when the naming of an informant seriously jeopardizes that person’s life. 
Predominant interests of the data holder itself can also limit the right to information if the data is not passed on to third parties. For data collections that are exclusively used for publication in the editorial section of the press, radio, TV, online magazines, etc., special rules also apply – in particular, the far-reaching protection of the source.

Supplying false or incomplete data in response to a request for information may result in a fine. The information request must be formulated in writing (see template). To this end, the applicant must prove their identity, e.g. with a copy of their ID card. The holder of the data collection must provide the information or a justified decision to limit the right to information within 30 days. The information must generally be supplied in writing, in the form of a printout or a copy.
The holder of the data collection may also allow the applicant to view the data on site. However, they are not obligated to do so. A contribution toward the cost of providing the information may only be requested if it involves a particularly large effort or if the applicant has already received the desired information in the past. The contribution to costs may not exceed CHF 300 and must be communicated to the applicant in advance so that they can withdraw their request without subsequent costs.