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Clear Public Satellite Imagery Tantamount to Yelling Fire 230

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the daily-dose-of-unbridled-stupidity dept.
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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Clear Public Satellite Imagery Tantamount to Yelling Fire

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  • the real WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Friday March 13, 2009 @04:59PM (#27186145) Homepage Journal
    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrLang21 (900992) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:09PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:25PM (#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.

        • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:40PM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Friday March 13, 2009 @07:43PM (#27188299) Journal
            Don't let Joel Anderson find out about street view, he'll want that blurred out as well.

            I'm afraid he's already got that covered: (Directly from the bill text [ca.gov].)

            The bill would also prohibit that operator from providing street view photographs or imagery of those buildings and facilities.

            Once again the California State Legislature shows that stupidity has no bounds.
        • Re:the real WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by redcaboodle (622288) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:40PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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

        • Re:the real WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:54PM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:19PM (#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? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942) on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:44PM (#27187583) Journal
          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?

          A satellite view might show you walking paths, bike trails, and alleyways that may not show up on a street level view or on a map view.
        • Re:the real WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:10PM (#27189505) Journal
          Well, I'm just a couple years younger than you, but I think satalite images are great. I have kids that play soccer and baseball and we're always going to different school to play games. I use google maps to get directions and then click the satalite view to get an idea of where their fields are located. Am I a bad person for doing this?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digitalchinky (650880)

          You're just making stuff up and then using 'the internet' as if the concept of top down mapping had been invented last week. What has actually existed for far longer than just your 37 years is the bog standard hard copy paper based map that looks down at streets in exactly the same way a satellite would see it from directly above. This is not useful to you? Colour me astounded. Overlay that satellite based imagery with street names and such, and you have your same old bog standard map all over again, just w

      • Re:the real WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by netruner (588721) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:37PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) * on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:15PM (#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.

        • by Cowmonaut (989226)
          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.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mpe (36238)
            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.

            Maybe instead he should wear glasses which blur his vision. This would be far cheaper for one thing.
        • Re:the real WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Friday March 13, 2009 @08:02PM (#27188491)

          Blurring satellite imagery to protect citizens from terrorists is tantamount to kicking voters in the face.

          We can play this game all day. As you say, it should be the government justifying any curtailing of civil liberties, not civilians justifying those liberties in the first place.

          But seriously, maybe we should ban career politicians because they keep implementing foreign policy that angers people enough to start killing civilians to make a point. Just a thought.

      • by digitig (1056110) on Friday March 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#27187771)

        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.

        Why are you going to an unfamiliar area? Sounds like terrorism to me!

    • by mangu (126918) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#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:the real WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LoadWB (592248) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:35PM (#27186651) Journal

      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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cristofori42 (1001206)
      I think he meant 'Fire' as in the kind that's preceeded by the words 'Ready' and 'Aim'. I think.
    • by sempiterna (1463657) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:49PM (#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.
      • just another reason why we should have sanity tests and age limits on politicians.

        Apparently they don't help much if our current slate of politicians are anything to go by.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Friday March 13, 2009 @07:31PM (#27188123)
        Well technically, the terrorists that have been targeting schools in the US are usually the students themselves. So it's really the students you have to watch out for, don't let them memorize the layout of their schools. Blindfold them and hood them between classes. Chain them up together, so that you don't let one be able to go on a reconnaissance mission. Let the security guards lead them in and out of the school. Move furniture around and walls to keep them guessing. Remove all campus maps from the premises, especially those "Fire Exit" maps on all the doors, I don't have to tell you, those are the worse.
    • How about (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shivetya (243324)

      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 :)

    • by nsayer (86181) *

      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."

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paracelcus (151056)

      This brain-bruised putz is only trying to get people to talk about him, politicians are attention whores. I remember some twenty years ago when Dianne Feinstein threw a small pistol into San Francisco Bay to "highlight" the "war on guns" of course she forgot to mention that she go's nowhere with out an armed bodyguard.

      What do you bet that it was a toy gun?

      Wanna get your name in the paper? talk about the following..
      Terrorism
      The war on drugs
      Gun control
      The children

    • by nametaken (610866)

      I want to know why someone doesn't rudely stand up, interrupt him, and yell, "Don't you have ANYTHING important you could be doing right now?!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      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.

      Maybe he is worried that google will snap a picture at a time when a small cloud is over a building, and someone in said building will think "Hey, I wonder what my building looks like on google earth!" and will see the cloud and think "Ohmigod! The building is on fire!" and, I don't know, jump out a window.

      While that makes no type of sense, it's important to keep in mind we're talking about a california state politician, so it doesn't have to.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:00PM (#27186157) Journal
    Default Deny makes good computer security; but profoundly dangerous public policy.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:02PM (#27186181) Homepage Journal

    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.

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

      TERRORIST!!!

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:02PM (#27186183) Homepage Journal

    ...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.

    • An example would require knowledge and his message is "only bad people eat the fruit of the knowledge tree".
    • by PitaBred (632671)
      Hell, what does Google provide that driving down the street doesn't?
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      ...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).

    • by veganboyjosh (896761) on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:07PM (#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...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ccady (569355)
      Well, a reporter already asked him what a bad person can do:

      I'm all for online mapping, but knowing where the air ducts are in an air shaft is not necessary for me to navigate in the city. Who wants to know that level of detail? Bad people do. ... With a [paper] map, you can't count the number of bricks in a building, or see the elevator shafts. With this level of detail [afforded by online maps] you can. I hear the argument that, "Yeah, I want to also ban cars because cars are used in robberies." Look, car

  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:03PM (#27186185) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Big arrows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:03PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:20PM (#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).

    • by noidentity (188756) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:24PM (#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."
      • by nsayer (86181) *

        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).

    • 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 situatio
  • FIRE!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by basementman (1475159)
    FIRE!!!
  • by mls (97121) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:04PM (#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]

  • by tobiah (308208) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:05PM (#27186221)
    there are consequences for yelling "Church!" in a crowded theatre.
  • 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.

  • Shoot him. (Score:3, Funny)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:06PM (#27186241) Journal

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

  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:07PM (#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.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

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

      THis is just the beginning of GIS information restriction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rpresser (610529)

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

    • The USA is becoming more and more like a dictatorship.

      While I agree that this is completely absurd, I think it's also important to moderate your indignation. This is just one asshole, not "the USA" as a whole.

  • Counterargument (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:10PM (#27186293) Homepage Journal
    The only possible purpose for censorship is evil.
  • by Daswolfen (1277224) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#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.

  • 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?

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Now, why did we vote these guys in?

      I voted with my feet and moved to Oregon... why are you still in California? ;-)
  • Tax dollars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:19PM (#27186425) Homepage
    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...
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)

      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.

    • by hurfy (735314)

      "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. "

      Damn you

      I never thought to look what the new roof on the church down the street looks like from Google Earth. ooohh shiny. Umm, too shiny, in fact, it is half artifacts from the reflections :( lol, fresh copper roof last year was too bright for the aerial shots. oh oh, self-blurring roofs...forget i brought it up......

  • 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 representatio

  • Blurring (Score:3, Interesting)

    by larien (5608) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:26PM (#27186517) Homepage Journal
    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*

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 extr

  • Apparently is optional now.

    Idiots.

  • 1. Look at the blury spot on the map. 2. Woo something important is there. 3. ?????????? 4. They Will Know Fear!?
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:39PM (#27186699) Journal
    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.

  • 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 off

    • by hguorbray (967940)

      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

  • 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!".
  • 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?

  • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:49PM (#27186845) Homepage

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

  • If pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?
  • by sampson7 (536545) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:51PM (#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.
  • by duk242 (1412949)
    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 >.
  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:53PM (#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.

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

    ...and the residences of government officials.
  • by nsayer (86181) * <nsayer.kfu@com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:02PM (#27187059) Homepage

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

  • When a high ranking public servant says something this monumentally stupid, it should be grounds for an immediate investigation into his ability to properly carry out his duties.

    The fact that idiots like this get into positions of power is bad enough; what's worse is that people keep the idiots in power after they outed themselves.

  • Doing this is going to reduce security. Want a high-profile bomb target? Just look for anything blurred! If it's blurred, it must be worth bombing! And the bomber won't even know until they arrive at the location that it's a school! THIS PLAN IS PERFECT!

  • Has any body bothered to point out to the nice Californian Representative that blurring the picture would be pointless because it would give a potential terrorist points of interest? Publicly requesting these items to be blurred because they could be threatened and then looking at the map will do nothing but make it easier to find them.
  • Seems to me that the "free" part of the "Land of the free" is getting blurrier by the minute.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday March 13, 2009 @07:18PM (#27187977) Journal
    Falsely shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theatre. It's an age old example of a limitation of free speech from a Supreme court absolutely desperate to find a limitation on free speech. The argument was hokum. If you yell fire, then you may be ignored, or there will be an orderly exit of patrons. If you cause harm, then those to whom harm was caused will, of course, be able to sue you for damages. I guess if you do so with the intent to cause harm, criminal charges should be brought but there never seems to be any indication that this is the idea, but that's about causing harm. Not about the speech.

    Even if we assume that it is so dangerous that we must apply prior restraint, this argument was initially used as justification to stop legitimate free speech. It was used as an argument against distributing flyers opposing American involvement in the First World War.
  • FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! (Score:5, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Friday March 13, 2009 @08:21PM (#27188683) Journal
    The original "fire in a crowded theater" case didn't concern a fictional proclaimed conflagration in a movie-house. It concerned people who were producing and distributing to potential draftees pamphlets asserting that the draft was a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution (which is is, but that's another issue). The stretch Oliver Wendell Holmes had to use to get from "fire in a crowded theatre" to "pamphleting against the draft" is no greater than the stretch this Assemblyman is attempting. So yes, it's ridiculous... but it's ridiculous with precedent.

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