Watchdog calls for Street View to disappear

The head of Swiss federal data protection has called on Google to take its Street View site for Switzerland off the internet immediately.

This content was published on August 22, 2009 - 11:12

Hanspeter Thür argues that the site does not fully comply with privacy legislation and changes should be made before it is put back online.

Google has said through a PR agency that it was "surprised" by Thür's demand because a constructive dialogue on the privacy issue had been held in the weeks running up to Street View being switched on last Tuesday.

Thür said on Friday that many faces and car registration plates were clearly visible or were insufficiently obscured and called on Google to improve its software to rectify the problem before going online again.

"Numerous reports from the public and our own research show that Google Street View does not respect the conditions that were laid down... Many faces and car numbers have not been blurred, or only insufficiently so," Thür said.

A spokesman for Google Switzerland said the company attached the greatest importance to data protection and respected the laws on the country in which it was working. However, Matthias Meyer admitted there were still teething problems.

"Our face and licence plate blurring software is very effective, but like any new technology it still makes mistakes now and then - occasionally blurring things that shouldn't be blurred, or missing some things that should.

"We're constantly working to improve the software so that we can improve the blurring we apply to images, and to do this we need to keep the original unblurred copies."

The two sides are expected to meet next week to try to find a solution to the issue.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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