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Swiss roll Street View into court

Data protection supremo's patience runs out

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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, when the service was launched, by not applying sufficient blur to faces and number plates.

He ordered Street View shut down - something which didn't actually happen - and there followed an entertaining series of Google concessions (more blur) and further Swiss demands (even more blur).

Thür then upped the ante by saying the images captured by Street View's all-seeing eye were taken from too high an altitude, thereby laying bare places such as gardens, "with the result that people see more on Street View than can been seen by a normal passer-by in the street".

He also mandated Google to "pay particular attention to blurring such places as hospitals, schools and prisons".

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".

Thür's patience has now run out, and his office said in a statement: "In its written response on 14 October 2009, Google for the most part declined to comply with the requests. For these reasons, the FDPIC has decided to take the matter further and to take legal action before the Federal Administrative Court."

AFP notes that Google has insisted it's "absolutely convinced that Swiss View is legal in Switzerland." ®

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