Google asks Swiss court to lift Street View curbs

Feb 24, 2011 By FRANK JORDANS , Associated Press
The Google Street View Snow Mobile takes pictures of ski slopes for Google's Street View in front of the Matterhorn mountain in Zermatt, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Keystone, Olivier Maire)

(AP) -- Google Inc. asked a Swiss court Thursday to lift curbs on its Street View service that have prevented the Internet search giant from updating the popular ground-level pictures in Switzerland for more than a year.

The country's strict have proved a headache for the California company as it seeks to provide comprehensive 360-degree panoramas of streets and buildings around the world.

Lawyers for Google told Switzerland's Federal Administrative Court in Bern that is comparable to services offered by rivals, and is guaranteed thanks to technology which automatically blurs faces and car plates.

Switzerland's data protection commissioner, Hanspeter Thuer, claimed otherwise.

Using a live version of Street View, he demonstrated examples where the software failed to obscure faces of adults and children in public - including outside the court - and even inside private homes.

"I don't want a ban of Google Street View," Thuer told the court. "But in the present form Google Street View breaches basic principles of privacy."

The company has faced similar concerns in many of the 27 countries where Street View is available, including the United States and Germany. In Israel, officials have expressed worry that the Street View might be used for terrorism and instructed the company to modify the service.

Thuer wants Google to guarantee that all faces and car plates are blurred - if necessary by checking all pictures manually.

He also demanded that private gardens and sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals and women's shelters be obscured.

Google lawyers countered that the company is continually improving its Street View technology and that the images are too banal, and of too poor quality, to be used to identify individuals whose privacy might be breached.

The case has generated enormous interest in Switzerland. Google has one of its biggest offices outside the United States in Zurich, where hundreds of engineers develop new services for the company.

About one in four Swiss have used Street View, according to . The company said last week that it is working to expand the service to cover the ski slopes around Switzerland's iconic Matterhorn mountain.

The court is expected to deliver its verdict at a later date.

Explore further: Startups offer banking for smartphone users

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google pledges more blurring in Switzerland

Sep 02, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. said Wednesday its Street View service will blur some pictures from Switzerland even more after a Swiss official said the images were violating the country's strict privacy laws.

Swiss watchdog threatens to sue Google over Street View

Sep 14, 2009

Switzerland's data protection watchdog on Monday threatened to sue Google over its "Street View" facility, saying that measures taken by the American Internet giant to address privacy concerns were inadequate. ...

Recommended for you

Startups offer banking for smartphone users

17 hours ago

The latest banks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Startups, such as Moven and Simple, offer banking that's designed specifically for smartphones, enabling users to track their spending on the go. Some things ...

'SwaziLeaks' looks to shake up jet-setting monarchy

Aug 29, 2014

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to end a two-year forced stay at Ecuador's London embassy, he may take comfort in knowing he inspired resistance to secrecy in places as far away as Swaziland.

Ecuador heralds digital currency plans (Update)

Aug 29, 2014

Ecuador is planning to create what it calls the world's first digital currency issued by a central bank, which some analysts believe could be a first step toward abandoning the country's existing currency, ...

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

Aug 28, 2014

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

User comments : 0