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Privacy stepped up for Google Street View

Google must adhere to privacy rules before it can introduce its Street View mapping service in Switzerland, the federal data protection officer has said.

This content was published on June 16, 2009 - 09:55

Passers-by must be informed before being captured on special roaming cameras used by Google to map streets, Hanspeter Thür announced on Monday.

Sensitive data such as faces and car number plates must be obscured, he said.

Thür said checks would be carried out to ensure the conditions were met. If faces were visible he would intervene.

Last month Privatim, the Swiss association for data protection, said Google was taking fewer precautions in Switzerland than in other European countries and called for the company to respect the rights of individuals and the principles of data protection.

Street View adds detailed street-level pictures to the search engine's existing Google Maps application, but the new format has raised concerns among some privacy campaigners.

Google's cars with 360-degree cameras mounted on their roofs began crawling through urban areas in cantons Geneva, Zurich and Bern to record real street images in March.

It is already available in the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain and Italy but it is not clear just yet when a Swiss version would be available.

Although the images include millions of residential addresses, people and cars, Google insists that they will respect individual privacy and Swiss laws.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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