One week after Apple announced it was booting Google Maps from iOS and photographing the world with its own aerial fleet, a top US Senator has written to both companies expressing concern over their “military-grade spy planes.”
“Barbequing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn’t be a public event,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a statement on Monday. “People should be free from the worry of some high-tech peeping Tom technology violating one’s privacy when in your own home.”
Schumer noted that although Google Maps and Google Earth have used satellite imagery in the past, “reports have suggested” that both Google and Apple have upgraded their capabilities to aircraft-based photography that can see through windows and capture detailed images with four-inch resolution.
Although Schumer specifically mentioned sunbathing – and we never even knew he was a Reg reader – his remarks suggest that his main concern isn’t high-flying voyeurism, but rather intelligence that could aid terroists and other miscreants.
“Detailed photographs could also provide criminals and terrorists with detailed views of sensitive utilities,” he wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page, noting that although there are online sources which currently show such potential targets as power lines, substations, and reservoirs, those images are in low resolution.
“However,” Schumer surmised, “if highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location.”
So, we have yet another participant in the war against maps.
Let’s keep everyone ignorant, because someone might do something bad with information someday.