Google Earth in danger of losing its focus

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California Assemblyman Joel Anderson is proposing a new "security" measure that will require Google – and other providers of similar map data – to blur images of schools, churches, hospitals and government buildings.

The reasoning behind the proposal is that it would prevent terrorists from gathering detailed information on potential targets.

This follows widely reported stories that the Mumbai terrorists used Google Earth to establish the precise location of their targets and plan their attacks. This logic presumes that terrorists are unable to obtain or read a printed map?

Nevertheless, Anderson's proposed bill would prohibit operators such as Google Earth from making aerial or satellite images of schools, places of worship, medical facilities or government buildings available to the public, unless those images have been blurred.

The proposed bill would also ban such operators from providing street view photographs or imagery of those buildings and facilities.

Violations would be considered a criminal offence, incurring a minimum fine of US$0.25 million per day, and executive officers who are aware of such violations by their companies risk jail terms of between one and three years.

To add insult to injury, Google would receive no reimbursement for the massive job it would be to blur the offending images.


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