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Google Street View triggers legal action

Following complaints over Google's Street View service, the Swiss data protection watchdog is seeking clarification before the federal court over the "right to one's image".

This content was published on September 3, 2009 - 10:27

"It's all about clarifying whether in future everyone will have to reckon on finding themselves pictured on the internet," said federal data protection officer Hanspeter Thür on Wednesday.

The Swiss version of Street View, which allows users to take virtual strolls around seven Swiss towns, went online on August 17. Five days later Thür said it should be taken offline immediately because Google had failed to blur faces and car number plates sufficiently, as it had promised.

Google agreed to work with the watchdog to respond to privacy concerns over Street View. On Wednesday the online search specialist met Thür's department and presented suggestions for improving its product, notably the pixilation software.

Nevertheless Peter Fleischer, the Google official responsible for data protection, said the software currently worked in 98 per cent of cases and that Google was convinced Street View was "perfectly legal" and of great use to the Swiss population.

Thür has said it is important for complaints to be sent to his office, since he needs to be kept informed. However, complainants must also ask Google directly for images to be removed or blurred.

Fleischer said over the course of a week the company had received just over a thousand requests to this effect.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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