Cabinet defends planned electronic passports
Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf says electronic passports will help guarantee the freedom to travel abroad and prevent abuses.
She made the statement at the start of a campaign on Monday ahead of a nationwide vote on the issue on May 17.
The biometric passports include a chip that stores two fingerprints and the holder's facial image to be kept in a central database.
Widmer-Schlumpf said such a register was reliable and efficient. She added that access to the electronic record would be limited to the passport authorities.
The new travel documents are a requirement of a European treaty that became operational in Switzerland in December 2008. It also facilitates visa-free visits to the United States, according to the justice ministry.
A group of centre-left and rightwing politicians argue it should be possible to acquire a conventional passport. They also say a central database allows the state to interfere in the private sphere of its citizens.
Opponents collected enough signatures to challenge a decision by parliament last year to a referendum.
swissinfo with agencies
In compliance with the JTI standards
More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative
Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!
If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at email@example.com.