Google Street View breaches privacy – Swiss court

* Court upholds privacy claim against Google Street View

* Swiss decision follows breach of privacy fine in France

ZURICH, April 4 (Reuters) – A Swiss court has ruled that a
Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) online map application breaches local data
protection laws and said the company must obscure faces and car
number plates before publishing pictures on the internet.

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court said on Monday that
Google would have to make the necessary changes to images before
publication or get the required consent to publish them, though
it recognised this was a potentially costly undertaking.

“The avoidance of additional costs and the free-of-charge
and thus commercially attractive offering of Google Street View
are, in principle, to be recognised as profit-oriented interests
of the defendants and cannot outweigh the interests of the
individuals in question,” said the court in a statement.

The case was brought by the Swiss Data Protection and Public
Domain Ombudsman in November 2009 after an earlier claim was

“We are very disappointed because Street View has proved to
be very useful to millions of people as well as businesses and
tourist organisations,” said Peter Fleischer, global privacy
counsel at Google.

“More than one in four of the Swiss population has used it
since the service launched in Switzerland. We’ll now take some
time to consider what this means for Street View in Switzerland
and our appeal options.”

The judgement is a further setback for Street View after
France’s data protection regulator fined Google last month for
collecting private data from wireless networks when its
camera-equipped cars gathered footage for the online map
service. [ID:nLDE72K1Z0]

“Taking and publishing pictures of people or property
without consent breaches the right to privacy,” said Andrea
Arcidiacono, spokesman for the court.

“Every one of us according to Swiss law has the right to
exercise control over their personal data.”

Arcidiacono noted Google could appeal against the decision
in the Swiss Supreme Federal Court.

(Reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto; Editing by Elizabeth

Google Street View breaches privacy – Swiss court