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Google Threaten to Yank Street View from Switzerland – Street View Cars will Soon be Driving in Poland

Google on Wednesday said it will appeal the decision of a lower court, which in March backed Switzerland’s privacy watchdog in finding that Street View infringes privacy because it isn’t able to make 100% of individuals’ faces and vehicle license plates unidentifiable, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Google has argued that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commission’s demands for faces to be manually blurred out are financially and logistically unfeasible. Google legal counsel Peter Fleischer said: “We simply cannot comply with the current terms of the court. If the ruling isn’t amended, we’ll not have any choice but to pull Google Street View services from Switzerland.”

Fleischer says Google will appeal the ruling to Switzerland’s highest court.

Google uses automated blurring technology that the company says can blur about 98-99% of faces and license plates. Fleischer says the technology is getting better, but told reporters that it will never be 100% perfect.

Hanspeter Thuer, the privacy protection commissioner who pursued and won the widely-watched case against Google, welcomed Google’s decision to have Switzerland’s highest court hear the appeal, saying it would set a precedent for similar online privacy issues.

“We’re confident the federal court judges will follow the convincing argumentation of the lower court and confirm their ruling,” Thuer said in a statement.

In a related news, a Polish newspaper this week reported that Google has wrapped up discussions with privacy officials in Poland and Street View cars will soon begin driving and photographing five cities there: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk and Krakow.

The imagery is expected to be available early next year.

[Source: WSJ]

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