Google to examine Street View

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Switzerland's data protection office said Google will report on improvements to the online map product.

Geneva -- Google has agreed to examine concerns about privacy on the new "Street View" facility on its online map of Switzerland, the Swiss data protection watchdog said on Tuesday.

Federal data protection and transparency officer Hanspeter Thuer said after meetings with representatives of the US internet giant that they would report back within a week on "if and how the product can be improved swiftly."

Thuer's office said in a statement that he was "expecting concrete proposals."

The Street View facility allows users to view a ground-level panorama of some locations on Google Maps based on still photographs taken by specially-equipped vehicles.

Thuer complained earlier in August that some faces or vehicle registration plates in Switzerland had not been wiped out or were insufficiently blurred, allowing people to be identified.

He had demanded that it be shut down while Google dealt with the problem.

In a statement, Google welcomed the "constructive discussions" with the data protection official and continued dialogue.

"We have agreed to cooperate with the federal data protection officer in order to demonstrate the efficiency of our blurring technology and to discuss his misgivings," a spokesman for Google added.

Google said volume has increased 80 percent on Google Maps for Switzerland since Street View was introduced.

The data protection office said it has received 300 complaints while more had been sent to local authorities.

Thuer said he wanted to hear of any complaints directly, but also backed Google's call urging offended browsers to click on the onscreen "report a problem" link.

AFP / Expatica

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