Switzerland to sue Google over Street View privacy

The Swiss government has lost patience with Google over what it sees as Street View’s failure to ensure privacy.

The country’s federal data protection commissioner, Hanspeter Thur, is now to sue Google in an attempt to force it to improve the blurring of faces and number plates. He is particularly concerned about locations such as outside hospitals, prisons or schools.

Other countries have raised similar concerns in the past, but Google has always argued that the present level of blurring is adequate, and that people are free to ask Google to remove pictures of their property.

The company says it worked hard to satisfy Switzerland’s privacy requirements. “Before the launch in Switzerland, we made sure we spoke to privacy regulators and other interested groups to give them an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns they might have. So we were pleased when the Swiss DPA gave us the green light to launch the product, confirming our understanding that Street View is legal under Swiss law.” says Peter Fleischer, the company’s Global Privacy Counsel, in a blog post.

“We are disappointed that Herr Thuer has changed his position on Street View after launch, and that he has not considered sufficient our proposals for improvements to the product.”

Google says it plans to defend itself in court.