It has been ruled by a supreme court in Switzerland that Google does not need to be perfect when it comes to their privacy practices. Google won a partial appeal over a lower court decision that was going to require the company to guarantee absolute anonymity for those pictured in Google’s Street View service.
“It must be accepted that up to a maximum of 1 percent of the images uploaded are insufficiently anonymized,” the Swiss Federal Tribunal said Friday in a statement.
Google was told by the court that the company must make it easy for those in the pictures to be able to manually blur their images. The court also ruled that Google has to provide complete anonymity in Street View areas such as courts, hospitals, women’s shelters and schools. The skin color and the clothing must also be blurred in these areas.
Also upheld by the court was the ruling that Google had to stop publishing pictures of courtyards and gardens that were taken by cameras higher than 6.5 feet in the air. That ruling was handed down in 2011 by the Federal Administrative Court. Google was pleased with the verdict from the supreme court but said it still was not sure if it would remove all pictures of Switzerland from its Street View service.
“We will now look at the ruling closely, discuss it with the federal data protection commissioner and examine what options are available,” said Daniel Schoenberger, Google’s legal chief for Switzerland.
A privacy watchdog for Switzerland was asking for complete anonymity in Street View, which allows users to virtually explore streets of cities and towns across the world. Hanspeter Thuer, the data protection commissioner, demonstrated the software in court. He showed that the Street View sometimes peered in private homes and even showed the faces of adults and children in public, once right in front of the court they were in at the time of the hearing.