Switzerland’s data protection watchdog on Friday demanded that Google immediately withdraw the “Street View” facility it has started offering on its map of Switzerland. Federal data protection and transparency officer Hanspeter Thuer released a statement warning that the US-based Internet giant was not respecting conditions he set to respect personal privacy in Switzerland. Thuer said that based on public comments and his own browsing, many faces and vehicle number plates had not been covered up or were insufficiently blurred. He “demands that Google Inc. immediately withdraw its online service Google Street View concerning Switzerland,” the statement said. The Street View facility allows users to take a ground level panoramic view of some locations on Google Maps, based on still photographs taken by specially-equipped vehicles. Google recently started taking shots in Switzerland. The online service, which began in the United States, has sparked controversy because the snapshots also inadvertently capture passers-by on camera, sometimes in embarrassing or private moments. Thuer said he would meet representatives of Google early next week to “improve” the service and ensure that it conforms with Swiss law.
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