“Afraid They’ll Catch Sunbathers”

Frederic Lardinois
June 20, 2012


As Google and Apple step up their mapping efforts, they are apparently raising some eyebrows in Washington. Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer wrote a letter to Google’s CEO Larry Page and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. In this letter, he asks the them about their “highly sensitive photography equipment.” In order to avoid that his constituents in Buffalo have to worry about Google and Apple catching them barbecuing on their back deck, Schumer is asking the two companies to include a number of privacy and security provisions. Schumer is also worried that criminals and terrorists could use these detailed images to “create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States.” In a statement that accompanied the letter, Schumer also said that he was afraid the technology could be “strong enough to see through windows and even catch sun bathers in back yards.”

Specifically, Schumer is asking the two companies for three security and privacy provisions:

  • *Provide notification to communities as to when you plan to conduct mapping
  • *Automatically blur photos of individuals who are captured, and give property owners the right to opt-out of having the company map their homes

  • *Put protocols in place with law enforcement and local municipalities to ensure that sensitive infrastructure details are blurred from published maps

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