Google Loses Swiss Street View Case, May Have To Manually Blur Faces

Google Street View with laptop

A variety of European regulators have expressed privacy concerns about Google’s Street View product, but a decision made public today looks like the biggest setback yet. A Swiss court has sided with privacy regulators in that country, ruling that Google’s system for automatically blurring faces in Street View doesn’t go far enough, even though Google (NSDQ: GOOG) says that system manages to blur 99 percent of the faces that show up in its images.

The WSJ report on today’s development quotes Google’s global privacy lawyer saying the company is evaluating its appeal options.

The Swiss authorities want Google to do a manual review of Street View images that would ensure 100 percent of faces were blurred. But Google said last month that isn’t possible, “logistically or financially,” and has noted that services similar to Street View are already available in Switzerland.

Until now, the biggest setback to Google’s Street View program has been in Germany. The company had to make big compromises to roll out the product in that country, including a system that allowed all Germans to “opt out” of the system by having a building blurred.

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