August 2, 2010
The AP reports today that Riverhead, N.Y. is employing Google’s user satellite technology to spy on its residents and issue fines for improperly permitted backyard pools.
The small town of Riverhead, population 27,680, has reportedly raked in more than $75,000 in fines from more than 250 violating pool owners. Chief building inspector for Riverhead, Leroy Barnes Jr., says safety is his first priority, but revenue generation appears to be a close second.
Moreover, some find the tactic of using Google Earth to enforce city code a bit Orwellian, raising questions about the proper role of city officials.
Lillie Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Associated Press that “The technology is going so far ahead of what people think is possible, and there is too little discussion about community norms.”
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Moreover, she indicated the view that Google Earth has been tauted as a benign program but has fallen into the hands of ‘cash-hungry local governments‘ and other entities looking to use the mapping technology for leverage and control.
The trend could increase as many local and state governments face extreme budget cuts, the firing of police and fire fighters and look for ways to capitalize on regulations and other petty offenses. Oakland, California and East St. Louis, Illinois, among other localities, have recently announced the end of police responses to certain types of reported crimes; however, traffic tickets and other fines will still be imposed.
This example is just another in the long line of government and technological giant Google abusing its powers to spy on the population in larger effort to control, tax and regulate them.
Similar action has been taken by austerity-stricken Greece as well, who are reportedly using Google Earth to locate tax offenders. They, too, have been tracking down “undocumented” swimming pools– apparently one of government’s highest priorities. Both actions mirror Pennsylvania’s intimidating ad featuring a high-tech Big Brother grid and a mechanical-voice vowing to track down tax offenders.
The subconscious message is this: you could lose everything in these difficult economic times, but you can NEVER escape the watchful eye of the revenue collector.
Pennsylvania Tax Ad Has Orwellian Theme