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Swiss Court Orders Google to Ensure 100% Anonymity in Street View Photographs

A Swiss court ruled that Google must make sure all faces and license plates are blurred on Google Street View, even if Google has to blur them by hand, as Google’s Street View mapping service infringes privacy.

Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, shared this statement after today’s decision:

We’ve received the court’s verdict and are currently assessing its implications. We’re very disappointed because Street View has proved to be very useful to millions of people as well as businesses and tourist organisations. More than one in four of the Swiss population has used it since the service launched in Switzerland. We’ll now take some time to consider what this means for Street View in Switzerland and our appeal options.

“According to the recent ruling, everyone has the right to their own image. So basically no one should be shown without his consent,” according to the translation of the 20 Minuten Online report.

Today’s ruling required:

  • Blur all faces and license plates (currently only 98% are blurred).
  • Guarantee the complete anonymity of people near sensitive facilities (e.g., women’s shelters, nursing homes, prisons, schools, social services, guardianship authorities, courts, and hospitals) by further blurring people’s clothes and skin color.
  • Exclude (or remove) images of private areas (e.g., walled gardens, courtyards).
  • Google must announce its itinerary in local papers of where and when Street View is scheduled.


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