The youth chapters of five political parties have warned of the pitfalls of introducing new electronic passports and a central fingerprint register.
The groups on Tuesday said there was a risk of hackers breaking into an increasing number of databases and lifting personal information from electronic chips of passport holders.
They also said citizens should have a choice between biometric passports and other travel documents.
The government argues Switzerland is required to introduce such passports as a member of the European single border area under the Schengen accord.
A coalition from a broad political spectrum challenged a parliamentary decision on the issue to a nationwide vote on May 17.
The youth chapters launched an online campaign to collect a large number of signatures to force the referendum.
The United States is making visa-free entry to its territory subject to an electronic passport containing a chip storing two fingerprints of the holder.
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