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Sen. Schumer Opposes Google Using ‘Military-Grade Spy Planes’ for Mapping

google-earth-3dSen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has voiced his concern with Google’s new 3D maps, warning that they could infringe upon the public’s privacy. In a letter, Schumer asks Google CEO Larry Page to rethink their implementation of new 3D mapping technology.

“By taking detailed pictures of individuals in intimate locations such as around a pool, or in their backyard, or even through their windows, these programmes have the potential to put private images on public display,” he wrote. “We need to hit the pause button here and figure out what is happening and how we can best protect peoples’ privacy, without unduly impeding technological advancement.”

The senator alleged that the new maps will use footage from military-grade spy planes capable of capturing images of objects as small as four inches. He fears that the precision of the new footage could allow for criminals to look into homes or map out detailed blueprints of sensitive government buildings.

The senator is calling for Google to reduce such fears by implementing useful guidelines. Schumer asks Google to:

  • Notify communities before conducting mapping.
  • Blur photos of citizens caught on camera.
  • Offer opt-outs to homeowners who don’t want to take part in mappings.
  • Work with authorities to make sure sensitive infrastructure information is blurred from maps.

Google said it understands the concerns, but says 3D mapping will work in a similar fashion to what is already available in 2D maps. The search giant also assures that the aerial imagery isn’t sharp enough to be an issue.

“We take privacy very seriously and appreciate the senator’s concerns. We met with his office to demonstrate how the imagery used to develop our 3D models is similar to what’s already publicly available in 2D mapping products,” said a Google spokesperson. “We currently don’t blur aerial imagery because the resolution isn’t sharp enough for it to be a concern.”

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