Google Loses Swiss Court Battle Over Street View Privacy
Google Inc. (GOOG) must make all faces and automobile license plates in its Street View service unrecognizable before putting images online, Switzerland’s highest administrative court ruled.
The country’s Data Protection and Public Domain Ombudsman said in 2009 that Mountain View, California-based Google, the Web’s biggest search engine, had not done enough to protect citizens’ privacy in its online map service that includes street-level photography. The court said Google must blur faces more effectively than it already does to ensure they’re not recognizable.
“Every person has a right of privacy with respect to his or her own image,” the court said today in an e-mailed statement. “No one may be photographed without his or her (prior or subsequent) consent.”
Use of Google’s free map service in Switzerland jumped 20 percent after Street View became available in the country in August 2009, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said in February.
The Federal Administrative Court in Bern said it classified Street View as a for-profit service because of its advertising revenue, and said the cost of improving privacy software wouldn’t create an excessive burden.
The decision can be appealed to the country’s supreme court.
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