The Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland has just passed a ruling against Google Street View. The order instructs Google to ensure that the privacy of all people captured by Google Street View in Switzerland is protected completely.
Google already has automated software that blurs out faces, but this is only about 98% to 99% effective, while the court has stressed on 100% efficiency.
This means that Google will have to do the needful manually, which will not only require a lot of time and manpower, but will also substantially increase the cost of operations.
The court has deemed that this is not a real problem. It has said, “All privacy breaches could be avoided, but this would entail additional costs for the defendants, as they would have to make images (even more) unrecognisable in part manually. The additional costs would obviously not, however, jeopardise the commercial survival of the defendants.”
Google Street View Zurich showing van parked outside erotic club
In addition to blurring faces and license plates and ensuring complete anonymity near sensitive areas such as schools, women’s shelters and prisons Google has also been instructed by the court to prevent private places such as courtyards and walled gardens from showing up on Street View.
Moreover, it is also now mandatory to announce where and when Street View capture is scheduled.
Google has one month to decide whether or not they wish to appeal against this ruling to a higher court.
A spokesperson for the search engine has said, “We are very disappointed because Street View has proved to be very useful to millions of people as well as businesses and tourist organizations. More than one in four of the Swiss population has used it since the service launched in Switzerland. We’ll now take some time to consider what this means for Street View in Switzerland and our appeal options.”
There is, of course, a very real possibility that Google may decide to stop this service in Switzerland rather than having to waste resources on blurring out individual images manually.