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Google’s High Resolution Satellites Threaten Privacy

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Skybox headquarters

Skybox headquarters

by Sean Shado, Off The Grid News

When Google Earth first debuted in 2005, privacy advocates reacted by overwhelmingly rejecting the new satellite imagery platform. Google Earth provides the public with the ability to access satellite pictures of any coordinates just by simply dragging the mouse. This gross invasion of privacy can involuntarily give the world a glimpse at your home, your belongings and your surroundings. Google Street View pushed the boundaries of personal privacy even further by providing a street-side picture of your home or business for the world to see.

In some circumstances, Google Earth and Street View are tools that have immensely helped people gain their bearing in a foreign place. Defenders of Google Earth and Street View argued that regulations surrounding satellite and street view images being posted on the Internet made it difficult for malicious people to get anything of value from the images. These regulations required that some portions of the pictures be blurred out. Other regulations mentioned that certain photography resolution thresholds must not be breached.

While these regulations seemed like a fair compromise, the United States government has instituted a change which suddenly loosened the regulations surrounding satellite imagery policies. These loosened regulations have resulted in companies such as Google now being able to display ultra-high definition photographs in near real-time, online – displaying resolution as small as one foot. In fact, Google recently acquired Skybox imaging for $500 million in order to jumpstart its live satellite imagery endeavors. Skybox’s plan is to have 24 satellites circling the earth at all times by 2018. Wired magazine notes that “With six small satellites orbiting Earth, Skybox could provide practically real-time images of the same spot twice a day at a fraction of the current cost.” While this innovation could stand to become Google’s next billion dollar revenue stream, the model presents all kinds of problems for those who value privacy.

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© 2014 Off The Grid News

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