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Swiss Federal Supreme Court relaxes Google Street View anonymity ruling

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A Swiss Federal Tribunal reversed a lower court's decision that Google StreetView images must be completely anonymous, accepting that up to one percent of photos may fail to be anonymized.

swiss supreme court streetview
swiss supreme court streetview

Google's international privacy issues were lightened a little yesterday when the Swiss Federal Supreme Court reversed a lower court's decision that Google Street View images must be completely anonymous. The ruling recognized that the lower court's order was unrealistic, and said that "it must be accepted that up to a maximum of one percent of the images uploaded are insufficiently anonymized." Google had previously stated that its software could blur 98-99 percent of images automatically.

While the court won't require Google to maintain complete anonymity across the board, it also ruled that the search giant must make it easier for people to have their images manually blurred and, in certain sensitive areas, must ensure complete anonymity. Google must also obscure skin color and clothing in the areas, which include places such as schools, hospitals, and women's shelters. Additionally, the lower court's decision that Google must stop automatically publishing pictures of private gardens and courtyards taken with cameras higher than 2m (6.5 feet) was not overruled.

Google previously threatened to entirely remove all Swiss Street View images, but after the higher court ruling, the company says it will "discuss it with the federal data protection commissioner and examine what options are available."