Legal obligations & Ethical considerations

National and international laws may require from researchers to follow a number of principles when collecting and / or processing personal data.

If you are working with international collaborators, this may involve various laws.

If you deal with personal data, find out on this decision tree which ethics committee you should contact.

Here are the links for the main regulations about data protection:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR regulates data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU, as well as export of personal data outside the EU. It aims primarly to give control to individuals over their personal data. In human research, this affects all internationally active institutions and companies that collect and process personal data from EU residents or send data from Swiss citizens abroad (EU). 

Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP)

 The FADP (Loi fédérale sur la Protection des données - LPD): defines what is considered (sensitive) personal data and general data protection provisions, such as: proportionality, correctness of data, possibility of cross-border disclosure, of data processing by third parties,…

Loi sur l’information du public, l’accès aux documents et la protection des données personnelles (LIPAD)
Processing for general purposes: "Public institutions are entitled to process personal data for general statistical purposes, scientific research (…) under the conditions that:  
(b) such data are destroyed or made anonymous as soon as the purpose of the specific processing operation concerned so permits;

(c) the data collected for these purposes alone are not communicated to any other institution, entity or person". (LIPAD, art. 41, our translation)

Federal Act on Research involving Human Beings (Human Research Act, HRA)

The HRA (ou LRH):

Applies to research on human diseases and on the structure and functioning of the human body, carried out:

a. on people;

b. on deceased people;

c. on embryos and fetuses;

d. on biological material;

e. on personal data related to health.


Does not apply to the research carried out:

a. on in vitro embryos (within the meaning of the Federal Act of 19 December 2003 on embryonic stem cell research)

b. on anonymous biological material;

c. on health-related data that have been collected anonymously or anonymized.