| ZURICH, June 8
ZURICH, June 8 Technology giant Google
can continue to provide its Street View service in Switzerland
after a Swiss Court ruled the company was not bound to blur all
faces and number plates before publishing images on the
That softened a March 2011 ruling by a lower court which had
upheld claims from the Swiss privacy watchdog that Google should
obscure all faces and number plates from its photo mapping
service, a judgement Google appealed.
"The Federal Supreme Court holds that it is not justified to
require, in addition to automatic anonymisation prior to
publication on the Internet, that all faces and number plates be
rendered completely unrecognisable," the court said in a
"It therefore upholds the appeal in part."
The court also said that near schools, prisons and other
'sensitive facilities', faces and number plates must be
completely obscured before publication on the internet, while
pictures of courtyards and gardens not visible to passers-by
could only be published with the owners' prior consent.
Google had said last year it could pull the Street View
application from Switzerland if the country's highest court
didn't overturn the lower court ruling.
Eliane Schmid, spokeswoman for Switzerland's privacy
watchdog, said: "The Supreme Court has understood that demands
are to be made with regards to rendering individuals anonymous
for the purpose of internet publication."
Switzerland's privacy-protection commissioner Hanspeter
Thuer, who pursued and won the widely-watched case against
Google last year, wasn't immediately available for comment.
The debate over data privacy continues in many countries, as
regulators struggle to balance privacy rights with Street View,
which provides panoramic views of city streets and is used by
Google disclosed in 2010 that the camera-equipped cars it
used to take pictures for Street View had for several years
inadvertently collected personal data from unsecured wireless
networks across the world. The revelation prompted scrutiny from
authorities in a number of countries, including Switzerland, the
Netherlands, the U.K. and France.
"We are gratified that the Swiss Federal Tribunal has
confirmed a main element of our appeal," Google said in a
statement on Friday.
"This acknowledges that we have integrated extensive
measures to protect personal privacy into Street View, including
automatically rendering faces and license plates
A spokesman for Google said a December 2011 survey by market
researcher TNS Infratest found that 60 percent of Swiss have
used Street View to date, and that three quarters said they
liked the service and would use it again.