Migros, Swisscom, SBB and Credit Suisse launch pictograms for data protection

Zurich, 30 November 2020 – Visualisations for data protection: Privacy Icons are pictograms that depict specific aspects of data processing in a way that is easy to understand so transparency in data protection is increased. They were developed by leading Swiss companies and are now available free of charge.

Most people would agree that data privacy is important and your own data should be well protected. However, hardly anyone reads privacy policies. This comes as no surprise, since privacy policies are usually long and difficult to understand. According to a study by the New York Times, many privacy policies are more difficult to read than Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”.

The association Privacy Icons, founded by leading Swiss companies, has set itself the goal of changing this and wants to increase transparency in data protection. “Who uses my personal data and for what purpose? People should be able to get an answer to that question right away”, says Florent Thouvenin, Professor of Information and Communications Law at the University of Zurich and initiator of Privacy Icons. “That’s why we developed 19 Privacy Icons.”

Switzerland as a pioneer

Not only are privacy policies often difficult to understand, they vary from company to company. “Privacy Icons are an opportunity to establish a standard in Switzerland – like traffic signs for data protection. This is a global first,” says Matthias Glatthaar, Co-President of Privacy Icons and Data Protection Officer Federation of Migros Cooperatives.

Data protection law should help people exercise control over the processing of their data. The first step, however, is that people understand what’s happening to their data. For this reason the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner Adrian Lobsiger also welcomes the initiative: “Privacy Icons provide guidance and help to make abstract data protection concepts easier to understand, however, they should not replace privacy policies. They increase transparency, which is a key concern in data protection.”

Leading companies are setting new standards

Migros, Swisscom, SBB and Credit Suisse are now adding the new Privacy Icons to their privacy policies. BKW and Zurich Insurance are also planning to use the Privacy Icons. “We invite all companies to use the Privacy Icons and make their privacy policies more user-friendly”, says Juliette Hotz, Co-President of Privacy Icons and Senior Counsel Data Governance at Swisscom. The Privacy Icons are available to everyone. All companies that process personal data can download and use the Privacy Icons free of charge at https://privacy-icons.ch/download/.

Further information:


Download the video explaining the use of icons and statement by the FDPIC: https://privacy-icons.ch/en/news/


Juliette Hotz

Co-President Privacy Icons association, Senior Counsel Data Governance Swisscom (Switzerland) Ltd

+41 79 488 21 80 juliette@privacy-icons.ch

Matthias Glatthaar

Co-President Privacy Icons association, Data Protection Officer Federation of Migros Cooperatives

+41 78 776 16 88, matthias@privacy-icons.ch

About Privacy Icons:
Privacy Icons is an association of renowned Swiss companies working to make privacy policies easier to understand and to increase transparency in data protection. It was founded following an event for collaborative innovation organised by digitalswitzerland. The association currently comprises BKW, Credit Suisse, Julius Bär, Migros, SBB, Swisscom, Zurich Insurance, the University of Zurich and law firm Wenger & Vieli.

Each Privacy Icon represents a step in data processing (e.g. «health data»  as type of personal data or «received data» as source of personal data) followed by a brief description (e.g. «we process your location data» or «we use your personal data for marketing and advertising»). They can be used to convey affirmative or negative information. A crossed-out icon would therefore indicate an aspect that does not apply (e.g. «we do not process your health data»).

The 19 Privacy Icons cover six topics:
1. Type of personal data (6 Privacy Icons)
2. Source of personal data (3 Privacy Icons)
3. Purpose of processing (3 Privacy Icons)
4. Special processing (2 Privacy Icons)
5. Passing on to third parties (2 Privacy Icons)
6. Place of processing (3 Privacy Icons)


We use your personal data for marketing and advertising.

No Marketing

We do not use your personal data for marketing and advertising.

Received data

We process personal data about you that we receive from third parties.

No received data

We do not process personal data about you that we receive from third parties.

News Overview

“We are very pleased to be part of the Privacy Icons from the very beginning. Customer proximity is an important goal of Migros and the Privacy Icons fulfil exactly that: They bring data protection aspects closer to the customer. Data and their use are becoming more and more important and it is key that customers can easily see how and for what purposes their data is used.”

– Matthias Glatthaar, Data Protection Officer Federation of Migros Cooperatives

“Transparency creates trust. I think the Privacy Icons are an excellent tool to illustrate how we at SBB handle our customers’ data. Our customers benefit from this – but so do we at SBB as transparency enhances the trust that our customers place on us.”

– Claudius Ettlinger, Data Protection Officer SBB AG

“As one of the leading providers of financial services in Switzerland, we are strongly committed to ensuring that the digital development of our business is implemented in a transparent manner. Privacy icons make an important contribution by explaining in an easily understandable manner how Credit Suisse processes personal data.”

– Norman Stürtz, Chief Data Officer, Credit Suisse (Switzerland) Ltd.

“Swisscom is shaping the digitisation of our daily life and is committed to the trustworthy handling of data. We are proud to be among the first to promote Privacy Icons. By setting a new standard, we are contributing to greater transparency in data protection.”

– Juliette Hotz, Senior Counsel Data Governance, Swisscom (Switzerland) Ltd