Smile! Aerial Images Being Used To Enforce Laws

Google Earth arial view of downtown Los Angeles.

Google Earth aerial view of downtown Los Angeles.

Benign, or Big Brother? Report from AP/Yahoo News:

On New York’s Long Island, it’s used to prevent drownings. In Greece, it’s a tool to help solve a financial crisis. Municipalities update property assessment rolls and other government data with it. Some in law enforcement use it to supplement reconnaissance of crime suspects.

High-tech eyes in the sky — from satellite imagery to sophisticated aerial photography that maps entire communities — are being employed in creative new ways by government officials, a trend that civil libertarians and others fear are eroding privacy rights.

“As technology advances, we have to revisit questions about what is and what is not private information,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology.

Online services like Google and Bing give users very detailed images of practically any location on the planet. Though some images are months old, they make it possible for someone sitting in a living room in Brooklyn to look in on folks in Dublin or Prague, or even down the street in Flatbush.

Sean Walter, an attorney and first-term town supervisor in Riverhead, N.Y., insists he is a staunch defender of privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

But Walter supported using Google Earth images to help identify about 250 Riverhead homes where residents failed to get building permits certifying their swimming pools complied with safety regulations. All but about 10 eventually came to town hall…

[continues at AP/Yahoo News]

, , , , , , ,

  • Your Mom

    “No one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states.”

    Mawlana Abu'l-A`la Mawdudi (1903-79), founder of the violent fundamentalist group Jama`at-i Islami.

    • E.B. Wolf

      “Privacy complaints” in this case meaning “believing I have a right to drive recklessly and endanger the lives of other motorists.” -Your Mom comment in response to Disinfo post “Arizona Turns Off Speed Cameras Due to Privacy Complaints; Admits Design to Generate Revenue” 8/10/10

      Strange fundamentalist bedfellows you keep there.

      • Connie Dobbs

        You know how those people are. Only rich white men have the right to privacy. He's just upset cuz someone peeked his pool.

        BEST PART of this: most of it's from google earth. You know, google of “google/verizon want to completely control the internet” fame. That's EXACTLY who needs to control the internet, the one who has complete surveillance of your home… Net Neutrality now, folks.

        • Butter Knife

          You mean the Google which has consistently advocated FOR Net Neutrality, and only made a minor concession with regard to access via cellular phone networks because they assessed them and decided that they were not, in fact, robust enough to actually handle that level of usage at the present time? The one that, for anyone who actually looked into that “horrible conspiracy”, came barely short of putting a hard deadline (it said they were working on one) on when their support for a non-neutral cellular internet would end completely?

          The Google that got many of their images by issuing pursuing FOIA requests or commissioning them from the government on their own dime, then turned around and gave them to everyone in the world in a non-restrictive license?

          I'd never suggest that Google is above doing unethical things, or that they're perfect… but their actions simply don't measure up to what the paranoids and fear-mongers accuse them of.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Back to work you! You showed vague signs of using a quote well earlier, but you're backsliding. Keep practicing…you'll get there yet.

  • guest51

    We saw what looked like you smoking a joint. This gives us the authority to break into your house. Oh it was a cigarette our bad, but we found a subversive piece of literature on your coffee table. You will be reported. Oh that subversive piece of literature was the U.S Constitution, our bad again. Sorry about that waterboarding we gave you.

  • Butter Knife

    You mean the Google which has consistently advocated FOR Net Neutrality, and only made a minor concession with regard to access via cellular phone networks because they assessed them and decided that they were not, in fact, robust enough to actually handle that level of usage at the present time? The one that, for anyone who actually looked into that “horrible conspiracy”, came barely short of putting a hard deadline (it said they were working on one) on when their support for a non-neutral cellular internet would end completely?

    The Google that got many of their images by issuing pursuing FOIA requests or commissioning them from the government on their own dime, then turned around and gave them to everyone in the world in a non-restrictive license?

    I’d never suggest that Google is above doing unethical things, or that they’re perfect… but their actions simply don’t measure up to what the paranoids and fear-mongers accuse them of.