Google Wants a Pass on Swiss Street View Limits

Lora Bentley

Google hasn't updated pictures on its Street View service in Switzerland for more than a year. The country's strict privacy laws have prevented it. This week, the company asked a court to change that.


In a piece posted at, The Associated Press reported that Google told the Switzerland Federal Administrative Court in Bern that Street View does not impinge upon Swiss citizens' privacy because it blurs out faces and license plate numbers in photos. But data protection commissioner Hanspeter Thuer didn't buy the argument.


In fact, Thuer pointed to specific instances in which the technology designed to blur out faces and license plate numbers did not work. He told the court:

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

He wants all pictures checked manually, if necessary, to ensure that faces, license plates, "private gardens and sensitive locations like schools, hospitals and women's shelters" are obscured.


Google, on the other hand, argues that Street View technology is continually improving and that the pictures are "of too poor quality" to put any person at risk.


Unfortunately for Google, that's up to the court to decide.

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