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Clear Public Satellite Imagery Tantamount to Yelling Fire

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the daily-dose-of-unbridled-stupidity dept.

Government 230

TechDirt pointed out a recent bit of foolishness as a followup to California Assemblyman Joel Anderson's push to force Google and other online mapping/satellite companies to blur out schools, churches, and government buildings. When pushed, apparently his justification was that leaving these buildings un-obscured is the same as shouting fire. "News.com ran an interview with Anderson, where he attempts to defend his proposed legislation as a matter of public safety. He claims that there is no good reason why anyone would need to clearly see these buildings online, and that it can only be used for bad purposes. [...] Apparently, Anderson is the final determiner of what good people do and what bad people do with online maps."

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230 comments

the real WTF? (5, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186145)

Shouting fire has two common purposes:

1. To alert people of a real danger, in an effort to save lives.
2. To scare people into a panic by pretending there is a real danger when there is not. (for lulz).

I'm having a hard time bending my brain to somehow apply this logic to leaving buildings unblurred.

Either you're trying to alert people of a real school/church/government building - to alert them of a real and present.. building, or you're trying to trick people (into a panic??) that the buildings are really there when they're not. That's the only reason to leave them unblurred? I'm sure I'd panic if I saw buildings on google maps that weren't really there. It might cause me to stop doing drugs. Maybe that's his plan all along??

But then he goes on to show off his USA public education by making the connection for us:

He claims that there is no good reason why anyone would need to clearly see these buildings online, and that it can only be used for bad purposes

Clearly, it all makes sense now! Seeing those buildings can only be used for bad purposes- Just like yelling fire can only be used for bad purposes! EXACTLY! There is not a single good use for shouting "fire!" except terrorism.

Ultimately, the only real WTF about this article is the belief that someone who really wants to kill you won't just drive to your house/school/church and use his eyes to make sure he's bombing/shooting/flying airplanes/melting/flooding the right place.

Re:the real WTF? (4, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186269)

Not to mention that I regularly use satellite imagery to augment maps when I am going somewhere unfamiliar and want to get a better idea of what it will look like when I get there. There are plenty of good uses for clear satellite imagery of buildings and all.

Re:the real WTF? (4, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186495)

Not to mention that I regularly use satellite imagery to augment maps when I am going somewhere unfamiliar and want to get a better idea of what it will look like when I get there.

I do too, although arguably street view is a lot more useful for that. You're not going to be looking at where you're going from 200 miles up when you get there, so why do you need to see it from that angle if the purpose is to get an idea of what it will look like from the ground?

Personally, I'm having a hard time getting really worked up about this one way or the other. Maybe it's because I lived without satellite images for approximately 33 of my 37 years on this Earth without much of a problem, and I don't think we'd be losing much to not have them again. This is not like GPS or the internet as a whole or something where there is real utility that would be lost if you switched it off.

On the other hand, I'm obviously against all this fear-mongering. I'm not so intentionally dense (as I do believe some people are) as to not see any way that a terrorist could use these images for their own purposes, but that doesn't mean I think it's a reason to blur anything or turn it off. It's just a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or evil. It's not a weapon, it's not a drug, it's not something the government should have a role in regulating.

It's more like, say, a pipe wrench. Sure, I could take a pipe wrench and whack somebody over the head with it and probably kill them. I could do it repeatedly and probably kill a lot of people.

Or, I could use it to fix broken pipes.

This is the thing with tools. They have a benign purpose and that's what most people use them for. But of course they *could* be used for evil. Are we going to just regulate everything that fits that description?

If the government is going to outlaw Google's satellite images, then it seems to me they need to outlaw pipe wrenches too.

Re:the real WTF? (5, Funny)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186709)

Don't let Joel Anderson find out about street view, he'll want that blurred out as well.

The 7-11 on the corner by my house was routinely robbed. I'm sure if the image of the store in Street View was blurred out, some of these robberies would not have taken place, because I'm certain that the type of folks that hold up a convenience store plan this stuff in advance with high technology.

Re:the real WTF? (5, Insightful)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186713)

Personally, I'm having a hard time getting really worked up about this one way or the other. Maybe it's because I lived without satellite images for approximately 33 of my 37 years on this Earth without much of a problem, and I don't think we'd be losing much to not have them again. This is not like GPS or the internet as a whole or something where there is real utility that would be lost if you switched it off.

I suppose the point is that some political berk wants to censor information to the general public on the grounds of: You might do something with it that I - member of the ruling class - don't want you to.

Re:the real WTF? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186825)

I do too, although arguably street view is a lot more useful for that. You're not going to be looking at where you're going from 200 miles up when you get there, so why do you need to see it from that angle if the purpose is to get an idea of what it will look like from the ground?

There really aren't that many places mapped with Street View.

I often use the satellite imagery so I can see how many lanes are on a particular road and which one I need to be in to make turns or whatever. Or so that I can get a visual look at a tricky intersection. Very useful when I know I will be navigating in lots of traffic. Also, as far as buildings go it's useful to see where the entrances and exits are so I know where to turn because those are not typically listed on maps. Very useful for finding places to park. I know you can do all of this on the fly but it's much more relaxing to know where I'm going ahead of time .

Re:the real WTF? (3, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186941)

Personally, I'm having a hard time getting really worked up about this one way or the other. Maybe it's because I lived without satellite images for approximately 33 of my 37 years on this Earth without much of a problem, and I don't think we'd be losing much to not have them again. This is not like GPS or the internet as a whole or something where there is real utility that would be lost if you switched it off.

While I understand where you are coming from and agree to an extent. You can also apply that same line of thinking to all kinds of things, including GPS and the internet. My father lived for the first 60 of 65 years of his life w/o the internet and has lived his entire life w/o GPS. So if they just go away, I really don't think it'd bother him very much.

On the other hand, I'm obviously against all this fear-mongering. I'm not so intentionally dense (as I do believe some people are) as to not see any way that a terrorist could use these images for their own purposes, but that doesn't mean I think it's a reason to blur anything or turn it off. It's just a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or evil. It's not a weapon, it's not a drug, it's not something the government should have a role in regulating.

It's more like, say, a pipe wrench. Sure, I could take a pipe wrench and whack somebody over the head with it and probably kill them. I could do it repeatedly and probably kill a lot of people.

Or, I could use it to fix broken pipes.

This is the thing with tools. They have a benign purpose and that's what most people use them for. But of course they *could* be used for evil. Are we going to just regulate everything that fits that description?

If the government is going to outlaw Google's satellite images, then it seems to me they need to outlaw pipe wrenches too.

This is where the problem lies, except you'll need to ban more than just wrenches. Books and education will need to go as well. Obviously you need a certain level of knowledge in order to build bombs and such, so to be on the safe side we better ban reading too. Of course judging by this thread: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/13/1323243 [slashdot.org] We seem to be taking care of these issues ourselves already.

Re:the real WTF? (4, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187295)

I do too, although arguably street view is a lot more useful for that. You're not going to be looking at where you're going from 200 miles up when you get there, so why do you need to see it from that angle if the purpose is to get an idea of what it will look like from the ground?

I live in Upstate NY, and around here we don't get a street view of much.

The satellite imagery is actually pretty helpful. A map just basically shows you a bunch of lines representing streets, it doesn't give you a feeling for what's in the area. The satellite imagery, however, will show you whether it's a residential or commercial area. And if you see a big building with lots of long, yellow vehicles in its parking lot you can guess that it's a school. Or you might see an interesting structure or grove of trees or something that makes a decent landmark.

Re:the real WTF? (5, Insightful)

netruner (588721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186671)

The real fallacy in this type of argument is that the public (you and I) needs to justify why they need something (in this case, unobscured maps). We have no obligation to explain why we need something, it is up to those who would deny us those things to explain why we should not have them.

This pertains to all things, period. I can easily explain why my neighbor shouldn't have 2000 lbs of TNT in his garage.

People often forget that we don't need to justify ourselves just because someone wants us to.

Re:the real WTF? (4, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187247)

People often forget that we don't need to justify ourselves just because someone wants us to.

I think what people forget is that we NEVER have to justify ourselves to the government either. Ever.

This country has fallen so far from the ideals that caused its creation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

People forget what an awesome concept that is. Particularly the abolish part. It's concerning to me that we have offensive fascists like this in government that believe they should have control over information. That, the mere possibility of misusing that information is grounds for removing our rights to possess it.

I am not fooled by their protestations that is in our best interests. The people that are so fervent to take away our rights always start with those platitudes. The solution to the problems we have is not to subvert the ideals that formed our country.

it is up to those who would deny us those things to explain why we should not have them.

Those people that would wish to deny us, can only petition their representatives to create laws. We, as a people, are supposed to vote on whether or not to enact those laws. That's democracy. What happens more often than not now, is that men like this create and enact such laws without the consent of the people.

Re:the real WTF? (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187261)

Other way around. The Gov has to justify hiding information from people. The excuses he gives are moot since someone can just get the address and drive there anyways.

Shouting "FIRE!!!": reality check (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186629)

Shouting fire has two common purposes:

1. To alert people of a real danger, in an effort to save lives.
2. To scare people into a panic by pretending there is a real danger when there is not. (for lulz).

Funny thing is, we keep seeing (2) as an exception to free speech.

However, let's reason this out. Is raising a false alarm illegal? Is it so wrong that it justifies an exception to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Maybe.

But then, shouldn't this be applied to *ALL* false alarms?

No shouting FIRE!!! in theaters. No shouting KIDDIE PORN!!! in the internet. No shouting TERRORISM!!! everywhere.

Re:Shouting "FIRE!!!": reality check (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187047)

Well put.

Re:Shouting "FIRE!!!": reality check (1)

ndunnuck (833465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187079)

A prohibition on shouting FIRE (in any crowded place, not just a theater) is only constitutionally justified because it can induce a panic that results directly in the injury and death of others, e.g. by trampling. Otherwise, false alarms are protected by the First Amendment (libel and slander notwithstanding).

Re:Shouting "FIRE!!!": reality check (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187193)

this guy is distributing KIDDIE PORN!!!
i saw so myself!

Re:the real WTF? (3, Interesting)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186651)

Ultimately, the only real WTF about this article is the belief that someone who really wants to kill you won't just drive to your house/school/church and use his eyes to make sure he's bombing/shooting/flying airplanes/melting/flooding the right place.

Obviously you do not have a clue, otherwise you would be a politician. Sheesh.

But seriously. I follow the same logic as you. But politician logic would follow your statement by "we should also put barriers around schools, churches, and government buildings, through which you may pass only after showing your RealID and subjecting yourself to DNA testing, Breathalizer, cavity search, and/or drug testing, and said barrier must be outside visual range."

Even without eyes, any terrorist organization worth its pillar of salt would already have access to intelligence on such buildings. The Internet just makes it more convenient. There really is no stopping a dedicated terrorist, Evil Villain(tm), or common stalker.

Re:the real WTF? (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187251)

but wouldn't an eye-less terrorist organization be terribly ineffective?

you've said about all there is to say though. just banning the information will get you nowhere unless you can be absolutely sure you've got every last bit of it. as long as people walk around freely, that is impossible. when we stop being able to do so because of the government, we can be sure that it failed. badly.

Re:the real WTF? (2, Funny)

Cristofori42 (1001206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186721)

I think he meant 'Fire' as in the kind that's preceeded by the words 'Ready' and 'Aim'. I think.

Re:the real WTF? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186793)

It's also the last thing you hear when standing in front of a firing squad!

Re:the real WTF? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186827)

ooh and when followed by "for effect" it commences the bombardment from artillery!

Think about it like this... (4, Insightful)

sempiterna (1463657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186859)

Think about it. Terrorists have a very large supply of money. It would not be out of the question to go take your own damned pictures. Renting a cessna with a Plexiglas bottom for aerial photography only $150 an hour. If you can fly it yourself, $90 an hour. Obscuring online imagery sites will do absolutely nothing and this is just another reason why we should have sanity tests and age limits on politicians.

Re:Think about it like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187007)

We must hobble organic lenses!

Cataracts for all!

How about (2, Funny)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186923)

I paid for them I want to see my investments.

Whats next, hiding their grades too? Oh, wait some schools essentially do that.

I know his reason, but just because we are embarrassed by the state of our public education doesn't mean we need to hide the buildings too :)

Re:the real WTF? (1)

theillien (984847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187025)

Ironically, Anderson's metaphor glances over the fact that his entire proposal is yelling "Fire![2]".

Re:the real WTF? (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187297)

Shouting fire has two common purposes:

It has a third purpose that you forgot: As an order to subordinates to initiate weaponry discharge. Typically it's preceded by the orders "Ready" and "Aim."

Re:the real WTF? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187319)

actually the "shouting fire" ruling was the SCOTUS allowing suppression of anti-war and anti-draft activists during World War I

that it is regularly brought up in apositive sense shows how clueless the average American is about our own history.

Seriously people... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186157)

Default Deny makes good computer security; but profoundly dangerous public policy.

Re:Seriously people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187287)

Default Deny makes good computer security; but profoundly dangerous public policy.

Some might say this is security through obscurity--I think relying too much on analogies is profoundly dangerous public policy.

Geohashing by building reference (4, Interesting)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186181)

I go geohashing/geocaching using nearby buildings as a reference, with no GPS device. I put the lat/long into Google Maps, print the deepest zoom of the location, then triangulate my position based on building corners when I get there. I don't care that the building might be a church or a school, it's just a handy object with well defined corners.

Re:Geohashing by building reference (1, Flamebait)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186381)

And you would end up burying your object many yards away from your "known" coordinates, or digging for one a similar distance away. Google Maps is just not as accurate as a good GPS.

Re:Geohashing by building reference (2, Interesting)

mahohmei (540475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186953)

On a recent geocaching trip, I compared the coordinates on my TomTom [primarily for driving] against my friend's Garmin, which was exclusively for hiking.

At any given point, the two devices were off by, at most, 15 feet. There were a few geocaches we found online whose locations were impossible--for example, in the middle of a football stadium. The fact that our two GPSs only disagreed by about 15 feet meant that whoever planted the caches had the coordinates wrong. Or possibly Googled them. :-)

Re:Geohashing by building reference (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187357)

Why is the middle of a football stadium impossible? Even if you mean the exact middle, as in the center of the field, if it's a grass field...

Re:Geohashing by building reference (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186991)

Can someone please explain to me how that was "flamebait"? It's a fact. If you enter the exact coordinates of a benchmark in Google Maps, the spot marked on the map is not likely to be very close to the actual benchmark. Try it.

Re:Geohashing by building reference (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187273)

That depends entirely on where you are. I have lived places where Google Maps was off by hundreds of feet in some places. I currently live in Atlanta, and have never seen my spot be more than 20 feet off the spot agreed on by my GPS-using counterparts (often my spot is not even the farthest off the consensus).

Re:Geohashing by building reference (1)

AnotherBrian (319405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186715)

I go geohashing/geocaching using nearby buildings as a reference...

TERRORIST!!!

What I'd like to ask him... (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186183)

...is what, *exactly* he thinks bad people can do with sharp images of buildings that they can't do with blurry images.

'Cause I sure can't think of anything. That's no proof, but it seems like if this is a real problem he's trying to solve, he ought to at least have some idea what it is he's trying to prevent.

Of course, his real goal is to get his name in the news, and he's succeeding admirably at that.

Re:What I'd like to ask him... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186631)

An example would require knowledge and his message is "only bad people eat the fruit of the knowledge tree".

Re:What I'd like to ask him... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186877)

Hell, what does Google provide that driving down the street doesn't?

Re:What I'd like to ask him... (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187119)

...is what, *exactly* he thinks bad people can do with sharp images of buildings that they can't do with blurry images.

He notes that with sharp, detailed images you can see vents and elevator shafts. My God, man! VENTS and ELEVATOR SHAFTS! Have none of you even SEEN "Mission: Impossible"?!

(Note: the preceding message involves sarcasm. Normally such a notice is not required, but considering the subject, apparently some people DO take these things seriously).

Re:What I'd like to ask him... (4, Insightful)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187139)

What comes to mind isn't an answer to the parent question, but the flip side of it, and a good reason why we shouldn't blur any buildings.

Much like the "parental warning: explicit lyrics" stickers on music, the blurriness will just attract attention.

What's that? You weren't aware there was a government building in your neighborhood? Well, now that it's blurred out, you know there's something of political/social value there. Something that would probably make a good target...

I suppose he would have a point (5, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186185)

If people went around geo-tagging all of these locations as "On Fire!", and fire departments regularly looked at the meta information on all of the buildings around them in order to determine whether or not they are on fire.
Or maybe he's just a tremendous ass.

Re:I suppose he would have a point (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186527)

I said it was funny, but slashdot said I marked it as Overrated. Removing mod.

Big arrows (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186193)

This might have an opposite effect. Suppose they /did/ blur out all these sensitive structures. Isn't that kind of like waving a flag, pointing and saying "OMG, please blow up anywhere but here - oh no, please not RIGHT HERE."

Re:Big arrows (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186445)

This might have an opposite effect. Suppose they /did/ blur out all these sensitive structures. Isn't that kind of like waving a flag, pointing and saying "OMG, please blow up anywhere but here - oh no, please not RIGHT HERE."

Instead of blurring out the images, they should just 'photoshop' them out. I believe this has already been done with some military airbases in europe - a while back someone posted before shots and links to current shots in google earth and you could see that these bases had been "erased" leaving generic terrain in their places (all except for one, which now had a "road to nowhere" still visible).

Re:Big arrows (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186489)

No, but you see the point is to trick the terrorists by making them think they ALREDY blew it up. "No, ze building zis is already in a blurry pile of ruins. Ve must move on."

Re:Big arrows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187093)

yes yes, easily point out the stuff that they want to attack, thats much better than leaving the buildings looking like the rest.

Re:Big arrows (1)

ndunnuck (833465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187165)

Are your terrorists French?

Re:Big arrows (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187215)

No, ze building zis is already in a blurry pile of ruins. Ve must move on.

Germans? Really? We taught them a lesson in 1918, and they've hardly bothered us since then (apologies to Tom Lehrer).

targeting database made easy (2, Funny)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186643)

In other news, kim jong il orders the immediate start of a brand new National North Korean fire control system which applies state of the art AI image processing to the Google Maps/Earth databases in order to identify all blurred image regions. He was overheard saying "No need to even aim the missiles any more, this completely automated approach can continue shooting even after the very last rice patty is scorched and vaporized.". When the rice patty farm workers themselves were asked about the new situation all they said was 'no comment'.

Re:targeting database made easy (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186905)

A patty is what a hamburger is. Perhaps you meant paddy? [reference.com]

FIRE!!! (2, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186199)

FIRE!!!

What?! (2, Funny)

BancBoy (578080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186299)

Sorry, I thought you were trying to show clear public satellite imagery.

Wow, I guess Assemblyman Anderson is right, I can't tell the difference...

Re:FIRE!!! (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187157)

Aye-aye!

*ca-click* *WHOOSH*

Torpedo away!

Re:FIRE!!! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187211)

FIRE!!!

Stay calm. The halon will put it out shortly.

GNIS - Freely available from the Feds (4, Informative)

mls (97121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186201)

As I said last time, this info is available freely from our own US Government.

You can search and retrieve with Lat/Long a list of these "soft targets" using the US Governments own Geographic Names Information Services (GNIS) system.
http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/ [usgs.gov]

Nice pool, Joel (1)

ddusza (775603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186219)

I am actually surprised he didn't include his own home as part of the list....

Ya, I learned the hard way... (4, Funny)

tobiah (308208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186221)

there are consequences for yelling "Church!" in a crowded theatre.

Counter to his stated goal (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186227)

Wouldn't blurring out government buildings, churches and schools simply highlight their locations on the maps?

If he's concerned about building details being shown, you have to wonder why. For example, what good does knowing where the skylights on a school do for a terrorist? Very little.

Re:Counter to his stated goal (1)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187055)

Bingo! I'd say you are pretty close, in that it "highlights them." Just another way to keep everyone constantly aware of the the threat we are under. The hope is that next time you check Google maps you will get a little extra food for thought!

Shoot him. (2, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186241)

Doing so will increase the overall IQ of the California Legislature. Whichever person is elected to replace him is bound to be more intelligent.

Re:Shoot him. (3, Funny)

taustin (171655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186363)

You clearly don't know much about the California Monkey Sanctuary. This guy's not even unusual.

So... (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186245)

So wait... Even though I can find blueprints of various government buildings on a website, can find listings of just about every church out there with directions on the web along with schools... The fact that I can get satellite images of them somehow means that it will be abused somehow? Why is it that in this country our government increasingly mandates to remove anything that might possibly be used for evil because its "new"? The fact that I can get blueprints of various important government buildings at the library of congress isn't an issue, but because I can look at them in Google Earth it is? The USA is becoming more and more like a dictatorship.

Shhh (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186567)

Next they will ban blueprints and maps. Then cameras and drawings.

THis is just the beginning of GIS information restriction.

Re:Shhh (2, Funny)

rpresser (610529) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186697)

Will it end with gouging out everyone's eyes? Or will it continue until spatial relationships themselves have been outlawed?

Re:Shhh (2, Funny)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186911)

If it takes gouging out everyone's eyes to stop the terrists, then that's what we'll have to do.

Counterargument (4, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186293)

The only possible purpose for censorship is evil.

Re:Counterargument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186819)

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Posted AC because I already modded this thread.

-cparker15

I can understand part of it... (4, Interesting)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186321)

Now I can see the need for using the obscuring technology to cover up places vital to national security like military bases and such. However, considering the level of detail available from Google earth is not enough to warrant the mass panic that Assemblyman Anderson seems to want to foster. It is not like you can see the details you can with the latest generation of spy sat. You don't get real time intel on things like deliveries and other information you would need for planning. You get no more than you would get driving down the street taking a few pictures.

Heck, cell phone cameras present a greater security risk to this country than Google Earth, but I don't see any reason to ban them either. Nearly anything can be used for nefarious purposes if desired. So banning a research tool just because someone MIGHT use it to help plan something untoward is a reactionary stance and should be avoided at all cost.

I sympathise with his point of view (1)

Ontheotherhand (796949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186335)

Look, most brainless knee jerk anti terrorist rubbish has already been done, and has found some sort of traction. This guy is scraping the bottom of the barrel, sure. but cmon, give the guy a break. It seems to work for other politicians?

Blurring MAKES an Easy Target ID (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186383)

What is this guy smoking?

Yeah, I know, the same stuff that allows them to vote to spend more than they can possibly get in taxes, leaving CA in an endless HOLE financially.

Now, why did we vote these guys in?

Re:Blurring MAKES an Easy Target ID (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186839)

Now, why did we vote these guys in?

I voted with my feet and moved to Oregon... why are you still in California? ;-)

Re:Blurring MAKES an Easy Target ID (0, Troll)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186891)

He represents the wing-nut, right half of San Diego county including Borrego Springs, El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and other hot spots. His web site has a nice picture of the San Diego skyline, but I guess no one told him it is not in his district. OTOH there isn't anything in El Cajon that I would take a picture of. He doesn't list an email address on his website [ca.gov] but he does have an email form. You need to be thinking like B1 Bob Dornan [wikipedia.org] to get elected from this turf.

Tax dollars (2, Insightful)

thesolo (131008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186425)

Public schools & government buildings are built using taxpayer dollars. Churches do not pay taxes and are thereby subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

Therefore, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to view the rooftops of the buildings for which we essentially paid. If I think the church down the street from me has an architecturally-brilliant roof and I want to look at it, I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to do so.

Of course, there's also arguments to be made about security through obscurity, security theatre, etc. Tim McVeigh didn't need Google Earth when he parked a truck bomb in front of a federal building...

Re:Tax dollars (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186769)

Therefore, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to view the rooftops of the buildings for which we essentially paid.

I think I've figured out what this whole thing is about. Assemblyman Anderson has been going around doing lude and lascivious things on the rooftops of public buildings which he doesn't want anyone to find out about.

Anderson Hates People (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186467)

Anderson wants to blur only public buildings. He says nothing about the millions of lives that would have been saved had all private residences been blurred out also. Since it's inevitable that bad people will use the unblurred maps for terroristical purposes, we should go ahead and charge him with genocide now to save time later.

You can't attack a map, you can only attack physical objects/locations. If Anderson had any sense he'd blur out the actual buildings rather than their cartographical representations. Better yet, they could be totally obscured. All he have to do is to get a law passed requiring all bad people to cover their eyes when near a place where they intend to do bad things.

Blurring (2, Interesting)

larien (5608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186517)

So, while in America, we should squint when walking past schools & government buildings so we don't know what they look like? Because surely only bad people would want to know what a school looked like...

*sigh*

Reasons from a Good Person (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186523)

I work as a Geotechnical Engineering consultant. When I get a job to do, one of the first things I do to roughly assess the job site is look at google maps or live maps for satellite or aerial photos.

By blurring images of any kind of soft target or government installation just because it of what it is he is simply going to make it harder for anybody to do his or her job, honest persons and terrorists alike. If I can't find a good image of a site to get an idea of what it is like, I'll have to make an extra trip out there to assess things initially, taking up more of my time and my client's money for the same end result. I'm sure that this would be the same for the "terrorists". Rather than deter attacks due to lack of information, this guy's forcing them to perform personal reconnaissance which will be 10x more useful than an aerial photo or satellite photo, and the result will likely be the same.

It's not a question of a job getting done, it's a question of how convenient it is to plan a job (job loosely defined).

Blurring Churches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186529)

How much of the bible belt would be visible if we blurred all the churches?

Re:Blurring Churches (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186673)

Given the poor image quality of most of the satellite photos of the rural South that I've seen, I'm not sure anyone would notice that they had been blurred. Buildings the size of a football field already look like a Rorschach test....

Re:Blurring Churches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187263)

I live in the rural South and can see my dog in the sat shot.

You'll have to take my word for it. I'm not giving /. the coordinates of my house.

Sanity (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186549)

Apparently is optional now.

Idiots.

Why stop there? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186565)

If we consider stuff like church roofs sensitive then what reason do we have to consider residential buildings not sensitive? People live there after all! What about infrastructure like roads and rails? Those are of vital importance in any war, better make sure google maps does not contain them.

Don't know why this is even contemplated... (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186611)

It would become even more trivial to search for stuff of interest if they were "blotted" out.

Direct from google map into real world GPS coordinates and blammo!

Why did this politician open his pie hole in any case?

One freedom fighter to another (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186613)

1. Look at the blury spot on the map. 2. Woo something important is there. 3. ?????????? 4. They Will Know Fear!?

Better watch out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186649)

If you make non-blurry maps illegal then only criminals will have non-blurry maps :-)

Here's his contact info (4, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186699)

Explain to him the error of his ways:

DISTRICT OFFICE
500 Fesler Street, Suite 201
El Cajon, CA 92020
(619) 441-2322, (619) 441-2327 fax

CAPITOL OFFICE
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 319-2077, (916) 319-2177 fax

email him At His Feedback Page [ca.gov]

He's dork from the exurbs of San Diego. So be firm but polite.

Legitmate purposes. (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186779)

My mother has recently been using Google Earth to look at the surrounding neighborhoods when considering houses to purchase for a planned move to my area.

I have to wonder what people will think when they see an area with all these blurred out areas.

Are they resources (schools, churches, government offices) or are they TERRORIST TARGETS? What is that blur at the end of the street? A toxic waste incinerator, or a library?

To be honest, I think this is all to promote a veil of secrecy from which our elected officials can hide things from US, not terrorists.

Re:Legitmate purposes. (1)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187131)

Ditto,

I've also used it to find tennis courts when on vacation and things like that. Tennis courts are pretty easy to spot, unfortunately they're locked half the time and you can't determine that from the satellite (Maybe with Street view?)

'I'm just saying

Fire? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186783)

I don't know about shouting "fire", but I do know that calling on Google to blur public buildings is the same as crying "WOLF!".

We need to ban phone books (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186841)

Terrorists use Google Maps to look for targets? If they're looking for schools couldn't they just use, I don't know, the phone book? What does the detail level of the image have to do with anything?

The Internet was safer 20 years ago. (2, Funny)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186845)

Perhaps we just need to turn this Internet thingy off? Things would be safer without it. Damned progress.

Reminds me of a joke (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186873)

If pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?

Sympathy for the Devil? (3, Informative)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186887)

I have some sympathy for the idiot proposing this legislation. Why does a people need clear satelite images of a school campus? How about a critical electric switchyard or natural gas facility? How about a large dam? How about a nuclear power plant?

The safety of critical energy infrastructure, using an example I happen to be familiar with, is a real issue and there is no doubt in my mind that Google Earth would make it easier for a terrorist. Want to black out a city? Detroy a dam? The first thing that I would do would be to study the project via Googe Earth. Sure, some detailed information is publicly available or on the internet, but a lot of has at least a veneer of confidentiality and particularly after 9-11 has been removed from the internet. It's not a coincidence that large power plants (which includes dams, nukes, etc.) tend to be out in the middle of nowhere. It is not inconceivable that someone doing physical reconisance of such a facility would be spotted prior to carrying out an attack. With Google Earth, you can do much of your work with publicly available and non-traceable data sets.

Do I support this legislation? No. I think on balance, the public's legitimate interests outweigh the fear-mongering. But do I think he has a valid point? Hmm... I think he might. I would challenge the geeks on /. to take on the substance of what his proposing. What are the legitimate uses of this technology when it comes to damns, power plants, switchyards, etc.? I look at them from time to time because they come up from as part of my job. It's cool to be able to "see" the power plant you're writing about. But does my interest in assuaging my curiosity outweigh the potential harm to the public if this information is mis-used? I'm not convinced it is.

On a personal note, I hate it when an idiot is somehow proclaimed as a spokesperson for an entire cause. Both conservatives and liberals do it -- and it really should stop. This particular guys is at best non-articulate in the defense of his legislation, and at worst a blithering idiot. It's tempting to discount the ideas he advances because of his idiocy -- but I think we would do a better job protecting the First Amendment and privacy if we address the substance of his ideas... and then make fun of him.

School Maps are Useful! (2, Informative)

duk242 (1412949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186897)

I work in a school, we sometimes use images from Google Maps to say "Here's what our school looks like from above" as well as occasionally showing kids how maps work. Not to mention if I'm going to other schools, I google map it to work out how to get there :) I don't know what this guy is thinking >.

Learning from the Soviets. (2, Informative)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186933)

An excerpt from Wikipedia...

"Soviet Maskirovka

An example of huge-scale maskirovka in the Soviet Union was false maps, with distorted locations of settlements, road forks, river shapes, etc. Public transportation maps of cities, while showing correct interaction of traffic routes, were distorted in general appearance.[2] What is more striking is that distance indicators on highway road signs gave false numbers. All this was supposed to confuse a potential invader."

The only problem was that it also created the exact same confusion amongst the residents of Soviet Russia. But then, that was probably an intended effect as well.

Bet I know what happened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187015)

He had his car parked out in front of a gay bar last time the satellite went over, and now he's trying to figure out how to hide the evidence.

The full text of the legislation will presumably (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187051)

The full text of the legislation will presumably require the blurring out of schools, churches, government buildings...

...and the residences of government officials.

He's absolutely right (3, Funny)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187059)

If I take off my glasses, all the bugs in my code go away.

aren't they (1)

ca111a (1078961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187125)

blurry enough already?

I never understood blurring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187183)

From up there, you can sometimes hardly tell if a building is a church, school, strip mall, small plant, or govt bldg. Once you blur, you tell everyone it is something important, especially outsiders.

People who already live in said city know what that bldg is anyways. People looking to cause harm, merely have to look for blurry spots to have their suspicions confirmed.

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