Google Street View hits the road again

Google’s Street View cars will be back filming Swiss cities from Thursday, but the new pictures will not be uploaded for the time being.

This content was published on August 5, 2010 minutes

Federal data protection commissioner Hanspeter Thür has taken Google to court in a dispute over privacy protection in Google’s Street View picture map. An interim agreement between the two means that no pictures will be added to Street View or other applications until the Federal Administrative Court has given its decision.

In May Thür explained that Google had rejected many of the recommendations he made immediately after Street View went online last August.

Faces and car registration plates were still not sufficiently blurred, and many pictures did not respect people's private sphere, he said.

Street View Switzerland was mapped by cars equipped with masts carrying special cameras to photograph the streets of seven Swiss towns. Viewers can take virtual strolls round the towns and see whatever happened to be there at the time the pictures were taken.

The service has been criticised in several European countries for allowing individuals to be identified without their knowledge or consent – potentially exposing embarrassing facts about their private lives to the world. With nothing to identify the time the pictures were taken, people's actions were also too widely open to interpretation, according to the commissioner.

Google launched Street View in the United States in May 2007. The French Tour de France cycle race for Street View was the first release of Street View in Europe.

Since then the service has also become available for Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy and Britain.

The ultimate declared aim of Google is to provide street views of the whole world. and agencies

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