Swiss privacy commissioner demands Google to close Streetvie

Tue 25 August 2009 15:15, Bas van den Beld

Swiss privacy commissioner demands Google to close Streetvie

It was a minor news item last week, the fact that Switzerland could now be visited using Google Streetview. A Swiss privacy official however thought it was a big case. Last Friday he demanded Google Streetview to immediately close its doors in Switzerland.

The complaint was initiated by privacy commissioner Hanspeter Thür. He believes that Google's photos are against the Swiss privacy laws. He feels Google hadn't blurred license plates and peoples faces enough.

The Swiss internet users whower haven't complained. According to Google their Google Maps service had an 80 percent increase in volume since the launch of Streetview last week, while only a few requests to erase pictures were issued.

The Swiss complaint is a big surprise for everybody and Google in particular. A Google spokesperson told Informationweek "We were surprised by the FDPIC’s announcement. We have been engaged in constructive dialogue with the organization ahead of last week’s launch to demonstrate how we protect people’s privacy on Street View,"

On the SFDPIC website the Swiss users can now read how they can blur their face if they find themselves on Streetview and believe it hasn't been blurred enough. Early this week Google and Thür discussed the issue, but he says questions remain open.


Another Swiss member of parliament was faced with the power of Streetview right away. Member of Parliament Ruedi Nose was found and recognized on Streetview, accompanied by a lady, which turned out to be his assistant. Nose says he doesn't mind: "There is probably no problem for my wife, as you could also recognize my companion in the picture," he stated in a Swiss newspaper. That same newspaper also quoted him demanding the "instant shutdown of Street View" until Google can guarantee that it properly hides the identities of people in 100 percent of cases.

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