back to article Street View stalks Swiss data protection bureau

It's still not clear what will be the final outcome of the spat between Google's Street View and the Swiss head of federal data protection, but evidence suggests the Great Satan of Mountain View's all-seeing eye is not going to go down without a fight. For those of you not up to speed on the entertaining fisticuffs between …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    I don't think so.

    ".... the dark hand of the data commissioner's....."

    More likely the brown trousers of Google's "make sure that Switzerland is properly blurred" team at work here.

  2. MrJP
    Thumb Up

    It's good to see....

    ...that at least somewhere has an information/data commissioner with some bite.

  3. The First Dave


    Please tell me that isn't _his_ car?

  4. Eradicate all BB entrants

    But they have blurred something

    The model number of the car.........frankly if it was my car would want the whole damn thing blurring

  5. Exiv96


    The canton of Basel Land itself allows anyone to know the identity of the owner of any vehicle registered there, thanks to this handy webpage :

    So much for privacy...

  6. Mike Bird 1

    Bigger Bite the ours

    At least the swiss Data protection people have a bigger bite than our British mob.

  7. The Indomitable Gall

    Not Thür...

    According to the Basel driver database that's not his car.

  8. Andy ORourke

    Did the Street View car......

    Go Past on two wheels to avoid detection or is the building in the 1st shot taken from the design portfolio of the tower in Pizza?

  9. Anonymous Coward


    I had never heard of that site until reading your post, it's quite shocking really.

    Even more shocking is the fact that a site with access to such data can have it's Captcha completely rendered useless by using the incredibly technical method of entering it once and making use of the browsers back button.

  10. Stephen McLeod Blythe

    Now we know why Thür's worried..

    he stole the car!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this real?

    Guys, was this honestly collected from Streetview or has someone been hacking pictures?

  12. Alastair McFarlane

    @AC 14.06

    The Swiss numberplate system works differently, as each plate is registered to one person. When you sell the car, you keep the plate and put it on your new one. AFAIK people have long been able to find out who owns specific plates there - though whether it's always been as easy as that I've no idea!

    I liked the Captcha too...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Links and oops ...

    Link to building:,7.447615&spn=0,359.941635&z=14&layer=c&cbll=46.943878,7.447648&panoid=LE35ij0Juho_a0GBKjD4Ug&cbp=12,9.51,,0,-6.91

    Link to car (note that they have a "special" blurring on the numberplate (as you zoom in or out the pixellation changes) :,7.448387&spn=0,359.941635&z=14&layer=c&cbll=46.943789,7.448367&panoid=aNKZbeWrhp-31Rcb2yhczw&cbp=12,284.67,,1,10.1

    However, they've forgotten to add it to the adjacent view :),7.448387&spn=0,359.941635&z=14&layer=c&cbll=46.943861,7.448381&panoid=c0xvM7JjVRZlDVmBCrqbdw&cbp=12,232.82,,2,11.32

  14. GregW1

    It's not just Google but the Car Index iPhone App has been hobbled.

    It's not only Google who is coming under pressure. The Car Index iPhone App is being cut down to size salami style.

    A lot of motoring data has always been available in print or online. Switzerland has woken up to what this means for individual privacy when data can be instantly accessed on smartphones etc.

  15. Jeremy 2

    Final outcome of the spat

    "It's still not clear what will be the final outcome of the spat between Google's Street View and the Swiss head of federal data protection"

    Presumably something a little bit like this:

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Alastair McFarlane

    It's actually changing - several Cantons have switched off public access (e.g. Bern). You can still get the data, but you have to write in with a good reason (like a hit-n-run, although your insurance would probably request the data instead).

    The registers that are still online make it very easy to opt out - the letter template is usually on the site, and you don't need to give a reason (well, at least not in Zürich where I did it).

    Back to the pics - if this genuinely came from Streetview, Google has been playing with fire. It's one thing to be told you should improve things, then fail to make good on your promise, it's quite another to appear to really take the piss. That is a *very* bad idea.

    The people working there are extremely good at their job, and their work is well respected. In my experience they're also very helpful (I've been there a few times), so to get to the present level of trouble means Google has already burned a tremendous amount of goodwill. If these pictures are genuine (and I have no reason to believe they aren't) it is not exactly going to help them.

  17. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    @Link and oops

    Thanks for that, interesting - the blurring on the specific car is different and appears thus some kind of active process. BTW, down the road you'll find cars where you can still see the first characters of the licenses, which identifies in which Canton (part of Switzerland) the owner resides..

  18. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    OK, I've had enough..

    I went from the link above and "walked" down a street to see if I could find more partially unmasked car license plates. Instead, I found a person in full, uncovered glory (the face, I mean). In other words, a couple of hundred yards away from their office.

    I'll stop now - it's evident to me that Google is really not taking this seriously, so I expect Streetview to become NoView in a little while. What's more, they are now in the cross hairs so expect other things to be examined too. Picasa tagging, for instance.

    I just wonder when the next regulator is going to wake up and ask questions.

  19. asdf

    hear hear Fred

    I agree %100 and can't trust my own worthless government (US both parties suck) to do anything about it so power to any government that will. Orwell was wrong though. It is not the government that will take the lead in destroying all privacy but an even more powerful entity big business.

  20. Alastair McFarlane
    Thumb Up

    @AC 15.33

    Veyr interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Good Job Spain aren't this anal,14.42234&sspn=0.000678,0.001206&ie=UTF8&ll=39.480196,-0.324826&spn=0.026102,0.038581&t=h&z=15&layer=c&cbll=39.480038,-0.324801&panoid=Ydj6f5qECBI9CE57MvJkrA&cbp=12,91.14,,0,26.72

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