Court says firm must guarantee anonymity

Switzerland says Google Street View violates privacy

A Swiss court has ruled that Google’s Street View functionality of the Google Maps service breaches Swiss citizens’ privacy.

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled that the internet giant must guarantee anonymity in the firm’s Street View service that allows users to view images captured from the firm’s fleet of street view cars.

"I’m relieved that the question of whether a citizen walking the streets is fair game for online services has been resolved," said Swiss privacy commissioner Hanspeter Thür.

The court also reaffirmed the necessity of Google conforming to Swiss law, despite the pictures being processed and placed online in the US. 

Google’s global privacy lawyer Peter Fleischer said the firm was "very disappointed because Street View has proved to be very useful to millions of people as well as businesses and tourist organisations."

Fleischer claimed that a quarter of the population of Switzerland had used the service. 

Google uses automatic blurring to obscure faces and vehicle licence plates but the Swiss ruling says that the firm must garantee the blurring, effectively demanding that Google manually obscure each image captured, something which is likely not practical given the many thousands of images involved.

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