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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

California Lawmaker Wants Online Map Images Blurred

A California lawmaker wants Google Earth, Google Maps, and Microsoft's Virtual earth to blur the images of certain "soft targets". These "soft targets" would be institutions such as schools, churches, hospitals...places where terrorists or people with untoward intentions might place their attentions.

I sincerely believe that the rationale behind this lawmaker's opinion is valid, but I disagree with the ultimate decision. There are many, many ways that an individual who wants to do harm to a person, group, or entity can get the information they are looking for. Limiting our access to these pictures online does not take away someone being able to take a picture of the building themselves, to get someone else to take a picture, or to find a picture on the institution's own website.

In my opinion, there are a myriad of issues with this line of thinking. These satellite images are not real time. They do not depict individuals as they enter or leave the sites. They don't tell you the layout of the structure inside. They are a picture of the exterior of the building or structure, taken at some time in the past. Limiting the internet, in whatever fashion (other than the typical limitation of pornography and human trafficking), is a slippery slope.

This is similar to the report I heard on the radio this morning about a West Virginia representative trying to make Barbies illegal. REALLY?!? I know that Barbie doesn't represent the typical female, but it is the role of the parent to help their child understand this issue...not government.

People will always find a way to use technology and innovation for their own purposes, and sometimes this means that bad people use good technology for bad things. Should we limit EVERYONE for the sake of a few? In my opinion, no.

What is YOUR opinion?


backwoods conservative said...

I don't like the idea. Google Earth is one of my favorite tools to help me find my way to places I've never been before. The information I can get about the layout of roads, buildings, and terrain is much better than anything I could get from verbal or written directions.

Swizz said...

What do you think about the blurring of JUST the "soft targets" and leaving everything else clear? Do you think it is LEGAL? Do you think that the safety (or in this case, the potential safety) of a few means we should limit the access of the many?

And, do you think that the clarity of pictures given by Google Earth, and the other sites, is really enough information for terrorists and such to do major harm?

backwoods conservative said...

I don't think the information terrorists get would be the deciding factor in their ability to carry out an attack. Schools and universities are in much greater danger from being victim disarmament zones, meaning that law-abiding citizens cannot legally carry firearms there, thus leaving the bad guys as the only ones who have the capability to defend themselves.

I think the satellite images have a greater risk of causing embarassment for people who sunbathe sans bathing suits on private property.

Depriving everybody of the detailed satellite images in an effort to stop a few bad guys is overkill. It would be similar to outlawing cars to keep bank robbers from having getaway cars.

Swizz said...

I agree with your disarmament's clear that the bad guys are going to get the information they need whether it is easily gotten, or not.

Some people need their 15 minutes of fame...maybe that's the REAL issue with this California lawmaker!

He should start a blog, instead. ;)