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After Modifications, Google Street View Approved For Switzerland 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-idea-to-do-what-the-swiss-ask dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Since Google began collecting Street View data in Europe a few years ago, many countries have taken it the company to court in order to settle privacy concerns. The NY Times reports that the last challenge to Street View's basic legality has been resolved. Switzerland's top court accepted that Google could only guarantee they would blur out 99% of faces, license plates, and other identifying markers, but also imposed some additional restrictions. '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.'"
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After Modifications, Google Street View Approved For Switzerland

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  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:58PM (#40269643) Homepage

    'Those conditions would require Google to lower the height of its Street View cameras so they would not peer over garden walls and hedges

    While it'd not be a complete 1:1 mapping of those features to large & gated-off mansions, one can see where that one came from.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:59PM (#40269655)

    Satellite based imagery plus topographical street view data could be used to reconstruct buildings. 3d maps is good enough for most purposes. Real images are overrated.

  • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:20PM (#40269767)

    The law regarding this type of thing here in Switzerland drives me crazy.

    You are out in public, you should have no expectation of privacy. Period, end of story.

    What is next? Legislating that no one can look at anyone else in public? We all have to walk with our heads down so we don't accidentally see anyone else out on the street?

    I am all for private data staying private, but when I am out in public, it is, get this: public information.

  • Re:prisons? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:30PM (#40269823)

    Presumably they're not violating the privacy of the inmates

    Yes they are. In Europe privacy does mean something much more complexx then it does in the USofA.
    It does not just mean: "Things I do in my house with the curtains closed".
    It goes much, much further then that.

    Perhaps you can best compare it to the original copyright where I have the right to my own life and everything that goes on it it. And copyright as me, the owner of my life. You should have my permission of you want a copy of it.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:35PM (#40269851)
    I am all for private data staying private, but when I am out in public, it is, get this: public information.

    I have a 6' fence around my backyard. My neighbors cannot see in, and I cannot see out Stand in the street, take a picture of the front and side of my house, and you see fence.
    Now elevate your viewpoint to 10 feet. You can see much more.

    If I stood in front of your house taking pics with a camera on a 10 foot monopod, you'd rightfully wonder WTF. But Google, with their 10 foot tall cameras, somehow gets a pass.
  • Seems reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:42PM (#40269893)

    Lowering the height seems reasonable. If someone has a high fence or hedge or such, they obviously consider the area behind it "private" and wish it to stay that way. But doing so will not significantly worsen the Street View images.

    Likewise, blurring out sensitive areas is also logical. I think they're going a bit too far, personally - retirement homes? - but it's still not unreasonable. I can disagree with the extent of that decision while still recognizing that it was a logically-defensible and rational decision.

    Advising communities in advance is also reasonable, if defined reasonably. Obviously, demanding Google go door-to-door six months ahead of time and personally notify every single person is unreasonable, but if it's just "mail them a letter stating the days and approximate times you expect to go by" or "put a notice in the local newspaper", it's fine. I doubt many people will care, but it will placate the few who have concerns.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:42PM (#40269901)

    Comparing Google street images of houses vs. MLS photographs is priceless. MLS photogs frame out the hoarding neighbor, the tree leaning over the house that will cost $10,000 to remove, the leaning deck. Google street is one of several tools that have saved me a lot of time and gas that would have been spent looking at places I don't want to live.

  • by subreality (157447) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:21PM (#40270691)

    A person riding past on a tall unicycle results in one person seeing over the fence. Google taking pictures is explicitly for the purpose of posting them to a popular web site with strong indexing so anyone in the world can look over your fence remotely.

    I wouldn't mind if some guy on a unicycle looked over my fence and saw me exposing myself to the sky. He can deal with his own mental scars. But I wouldn't be happy about it at all if Google took pictures for the whole world to see.

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