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back to article Swiss roll Street View into court

Switzerland's head of federal data protection has announced that he's taking Google to court after the search monolith refused to comply with several privacy requests regarding its Swiss Street View service. Google incurred the wrath of Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) Hans-Peter Thür back in August, …

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Well..

If I wander down the streets with a camera mounted on a 6ft pole (which if I am carrying would seem to be the height of the google cam) .. I wonder how long before I'm arrested for invasion of privacy and such.

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Big Brother

Hold on...

Are Data Protection Commisioners supposed to just roll over and take it?

Must be just ours then....

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Black Helicopters

Exactly what have the Swiss...

...got to hide, eh???

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Anonymous Coward

They didn't exactly help themselves..

As El Reg has pointed out before, they left license plates and faces unprotected right around the corner from where the Data Protection office is. That isn't funny if you're busy violating a law which is pretty important in Switzerland (as it is in Japan, and I can imagine they may face problems in Luxembourg too) - that's either stupidity of sheer provocation (I opt for stupidity)

They were also told fairly precisely what they needed to do, and just patching the faces they get told about is the wrong way around from how it's supposed to work.

I'm not impressed with Google here. We're talking about a fairly fundamental difference in philosophy, and they'll run into this again in any country that takes privacy and data protection seriously. The question is not why the Swiss take them to court, the question is why other nations don't. I guess all that "you don't need privacy" indoctrination didn't work in Switzerland..

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Coat

@ Well..

"f I wander down the streets with a camera mounted on a 6ft pole"

You may even get arrested for indecent exposure. And establish a Guinness World record (longest pole to ever sport a camera).

Yes, yes, I'm going. The flasher Mac, thanks.

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Megaphone

Another example of a small minority

I am sorry but this theoretical risk of "invading" someones privacy is just hogwash. They take the photos on a public street, they for the most part blur peoples faces. This should be sufficient.

A small minority of people whose presence is captured for posterity are potentially disrupting a service that many thousands or even millions find very useful. I visit many new places in my job and being able to see the clients office and the route from the metro or bus station including landmarks is probably the best thing Google has delivered ever.

The minority are people with something to hide or don't like anything new ! It seems to me that the bureaucrats in most other countries have found it acceptable. So lets get behind Google on this and tell them where to get off.

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Paris Hilton

what have the swiss got to hide??

in answer to Smallbrainfield

could it be how the put the holes in swiss cheese ??

:) :) :) :)

Paris because SHE KNOWS

peter

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Black Helicopters

@Smallbrainfield

Dark hams.

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@Richard 51

here here,

I have long praised Google for this and am annoyed every time this happens, it is always the minority looking for something else to complain about.

As I have said before, no-one is identifiable in these photos, everyone sees thousands of nameless faces every day while driving, walking, watching news reports on TV etc etc etc.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Another example of a small minority

Umm, excuse me? This happens to be a democratically agreed law that Google is violating, and privacy happens to be a human right as well (you may have forgotten that after 8 years of Bush/Blair "be scared of the terrorists" indoctrination). And it's in breach of the US Safe Harbour agreement, and the Swiss will hold them to it.

You're also looking at this backwards: those people shouldn't have to hide for Google, Google should have made sure these people were masked. In addition, protecting personal privacy seems to run a bit counter to Streetview's offering to zoom in when it finds a person, or the Google drivers entering private roads without permission. Oh, and they went on private roads without permission..

The actual filing also flagged another fact that has been carefully kept from the headlines: Google only promised to halt adding new images until end of 2009 (read: regardless whether they had solved the problem or not). I'd say that is just a little bit too arrogant, and I think it will not serve them well.

It is entirely possible that Swiss images in Streetview will have to be disabled if Google cannot prove it does the right thing, the court filing asks for an immediate shutdown using the argument above that Google intends to start adding images again, which would result in more violations.

It's also not just the data protection commissioner having a bee in his bonnet: they have indeed received plenty of complaints, so they are simply doing their job properly.

As for the (very tiring) argument of having nothing to hide: well, OK; so you leave the toilet door open then? And could you tell me how much exactly you earn, and how much of that you spend on pr0n? No? Why? Why do you close the curtains at night?

Something to hide?

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@Richard 51

What you don't get is how democracy works.

The data protection officer in Switzerland just tries to enforce applicable law. If those many thousands or millions, as you mention them, decide they want to have Street View legally all they have to do is changing (or trying to change) the law - in a democratic process. This has nothing to do with bureaucrats but a lot with the principle of legal certainty.

EA

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Google cutting the Swiss cheese?

> Google declined to reshoot Switzerland with lowered spycams, as it was obliged to do in Japan, saying this would "bring the camera closer to pedestrians".

At which point we might discover that the gnomes of Zurich are actually all faceless. I do look forward to a tour of the Bank for International Settlements tho, starting with the outside.

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Big Brother

unidentifiable? not quite...

"As I have said before, no-one is identifiable in these photos, everyone sees thousands of nameless faces every day while driving, walking, watching news reports on TV etc etc etc."

Not actually true - I have managed to find and positively identify a couple of friends strolling through the centre of the city I live in, and I wasn't even looking for anyone in particular, just playing with the app... When I showed them they agreed it was them, and even remembered the day the pic was taken (something about a 10ft pole sitting on top of a car is fairly conspicuous :P )

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Anonymous Coward

Just waiting for...

...Google to give up on a country, say stuff the lot of ya, and remove the entire country from StreetView.

I wonder how many would complain why it's gone...

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@Richard 51

That astroturf you're smoking is probably illegal in Switzerland too.

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Happy

Make a trade

The Swiss have a high profile pedophile a US DA wants, so instead of giving him away, offer to trade him for a couple of high profile corporate executives that want to flaunt their laws. Seems like a fair trade to me!

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Hi Tech Hi Crime

Nice one Swissies!

Most people are just getting carried away with all these cool implementations of new technologies without even considering the potential long-term down side. Bloody Muppets.

Defnitely not a Luddite, but all our wonderful hitech CCTV, internet, etc has simply allowed "them" to monitor us more and more whilst crime actually soars rather than decline! WTF is going on? I maintain that not having old fashioned plods and neighbourhood grassers on the streets is causing communities to fall apart and crime to soar.

Anyway, back to street view, it simply allows local authority snoops as well as the criminals to see over your garden fence and spot that planning non-compliant extension or alteration on your house, or a great reccy for the thief who is going to see that non-overlooked window that he will break through when you're not at home.

At least the Swiss and Japs have realised this bit our own bunch of useless and corrupt politicians either dont understand or are paid to ignore such issues by their overlords

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Go Swiss dudes!

At last someone who stands up to corporate America.

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Flame

Gnome bankers hiding their fall-out shelters stuffed with gold

The only country to have fall-out shelters for all their population; restrictive rights for females and excessive privacy laws for secretive drug companies and rich businessmen - what else would happen?

Personally I'm surprised they didn't stop them at the borders as ahas happened for the whistle-blowers of fame.

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