Kevin J. O’Brien and David Streitfeld report:
Switzerland’s highest court on Friday upheld Google’s basic right to document residential street fronts with its Street View technology, but imposed some limitations on the kinds of images the company can take.
The ruling leaves the service legally intact in Switzerland, which has some of the strictest privacy safeguards in the world. Swiss regulators and Google both said they were pleased with the decision.
In its ruling Friday, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the Bundesgericht, said Google did not have to guarantee 100 percent blurring of the faces of pedestrians, auto license plates and other identifying markers captured by Google’s Street View cars; 99 percent would be acceptable. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., says its technology blurs faces and license plates in 99 percent of cases.
While the Swiss court sided with Google on the adequacy of its digital pixilation methods, the panel upheld several conditions demanded by the national regulator. Those conditions would require Google to lower the height of its Street View cameras so they would not peer over garden walls and hedges, to completely blur out sensitive facilities like women’s shelters, prisons, retirement homes and schools, and to advise communities in advance of scheduled tapings.