Google Runs Into New Privacy Objections In Europe Over Street View

Street View Tricycle

Europeans have a much broader view of privacy law than Americans, and Google’s Street View, generally accepted in the U.S., continues to run into obstacles across the Atlantic. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) already uses blurs the faces of 99 percent of the people who appear in Street View using an automated system, but now the top Swiss privacy official is asking for a manual review to get that last one percent, according to a report in the WSJ. A Google rep responds that it’s not feasible, “logistically or financially,” to boost the blurring to 100 percent.

In its defense, Google notes that similar services are already available in Switzerland, including services provided by the state.

Swiss privacy authorities originally challenged Street View in 2009, and a court hearing is scheduled for today to decide the issue.

Google had big problems rolling out Street View in Germany until it provided Germans with an opt-out system that allowed them to blur their houses upon request. About 200,000 Germans took the company up on that offer.

In other Street View news, the Israeli government recently revealed that it is in talks with Google, and that Street View will soon be launched in that country. Concerns about terrorism loom large, but the country is balancing those against the advantages that Street View could bring, in encouraging tourism and promoting the nation’s image.


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