Federal Administrative Court to review Google Street View Case

27. Januar 2010 – On October 14th, 2009 Google rejected large parts of the recommendation of the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) regarding Street View. Google only agreed to refrain from posting additional pictures until the end of 2009.

As a consequence, on November 11th, 2009 the FDPIC filed an action against Google before the Federal Administrative Court. The FDPIC’s claims are basically identical to its recommendation. It contends that Google must ensure that:

  • faces and licence plates are made completely unrecognizable before pictures are placed online;
  • the anonymity of individuals in sensitive areas is guaranteed;
  • no pictures are taken of private areas (courtyards, etc.) and that pictures of such areas which have already been placed online are taken down;
  • pictures taken from a private street are taken down unless consent was obtained for taking such pictures;
  • Google must give at least one week's advance notice of where (towns, villages) it will take pictures in the following week;
  • Before placing pictures of towns and villages online, Google must give at least one week's advance notice as to which towns and villages it will place online.

In addition, as preliminary measures, the FDPIC has asked the court to enjoin Google from placing online pictures taken in Switzerland until the judgment has become final and to enjoin Google from taking additional pictures in Switzerland until further notice.

On December 16th, 2009, the FDPIC and Google reached an agreement in relation with the preliminary measures requested by the FDPIC. The agreement includes the following points:

  • Google will refrain from placing any further pictures taken in Switzerland for Street View online until the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court has become final and binding;
  • Google has agreed to accept a final and binding judgment of the Federal Administrative Court;
  • Google is entitled to continue to take pictures in Switzerland, but may use them only for internal, non-person-related processing and may not place them online until the
    judgment in its favour has become final and binding;
  • Google will give at least one week's advance notice of where (districts, surrounding areas of towns) it will take pictures in the following week;
  • The FDPIC has agreed to withdraw its requests for injunctions;
  • The agreement has no other effect on the pending main proceedings.

The judgment of the Federal Administrative Court in this matter is not expected to be rendered for several months.