Concerned that international terrorists are prepping their attacks with help from services like Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and Google Street View, a California lawmaker hopes to airbrush certain structural details from countless public buildings pictured on these web-based virtual landscapes.
San Diego-based Assemblyman Joel Anderson recently introduced a California bill that would bar “online mapping services” from serving up overly-revealing images of schools, hospitals, churches, and government buildings.
“This bill does not impact people’s ability to go from one location to another on these services,” Anderson tells The Reg. “But the current level of detail invites bad behavior. So we’re asking these services to limit the level of detail. There’s no reason they need to show where all a school’s air ducts are and the elevator shafts and all the entry and exit points…
“We shouldn’t be in the business of helping criminals map their next target.”
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Anderson cooked up the bill in response to various news reports that terrorists have already used such services in planning their attacks. According to government investigators in India, the ten gunmen behind November’s Mumbai attacks used Google Earth in scouting their myriad targets.
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Legal advocates have already urged an Indian Court to ban Google Earth entirely. But Anderson’s aim is to edit the satellite imagery service and other tools like it. That would include Microsoft Virtual Earth, which also uses satellite imagery, and Google Street View, which serves up photos snapped at ground level.