Today, a U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer wrote a letter to Google's CEO Larry Page and Apple's CEO Tim Cook, where in he asks them about their "highly sensitive photography equipment," and that to include a number of privacy and security provisions.
Schumer also said that he was afraid the technology could be "strong enough to see through windows and even catch sun bathers in back yards," and that he is also worried about criminals and terrorists could use these detailed images to "create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States."
Schumer asked the two companies for three security and privacy provisions -- (from the letter embedded under this post):
Provide notification to communities as to when you plan to conduct mapping
Automatically blur photos of individuals who are captured, and give property owners the right to opt-out of having the company map their homes
Put protocols in place with law enforcement and local municipalities to ensure that sensitive infrastructure details are blurred from published maps
In other Google legal news,
Google warned Youtube to MP3 conversion website "Youtube-MP3.org" with legal action, and seen its servers blocked from accessing YouTube because its MP3 extraction procedures convert YouTube videos into downloadable audio files.
In a letter dated June 8 sent to Youtube-MP3's owner "Philip" YouTube associate product counsel Harris Cohen said that YouTube's terms of service (ToS) prohibit any service that allows Youtube content to be download instead of streamed, TorrentFreak reported.
Cohen also highlghted that to "separate, isolate, or modify the audio or video components of any YouTube audiovisual content made available through the YouTube API" is also forbidden. Specifically, Youtube-MP3 were told to stop its services immediately and comply with its demands within seven days.
"We would estimate that there are roughly 200 million people across the world that make use of services like ours and Google doesn't just ignore all those people, they are about to criminalize them," Philip said in a statement on Youtube-MP3.org. "With the way they are interpreting and creating their ToS every one of those 200 million users is threatened to be sued by Google."
According to Google statistics, the attracts 1.3 million daily visitors.
Copy of the full letter to Google and Apple:
Dear Apple and Google,
I write today over the recent revelations that your companies are using highly sensitive photography equipment to take pictures of cities and towns across the country for your respective mapping products. These disclosures are potentially troubling, and I request that the privacy and security of Americans remain your top priority as you deploy new mapping and imaging capability.
It has been reported that some of these sensitive cameras can take pictures of objects up to four inches wide. I fear that this clarity may allow your mapping programs to take detailed pictures of people in intimate locations such as around a pool or in someone's backyard. People on Long Island or in Buffalo have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they decide to have a barbeque on their back deck and would prefer to retain the option of deciding whether they should be photographed on their property. They should not fear that your planes will be overhead taking detailed pictures of their private events.
Detailed photographs could also provide criminals and terrorists with detailed views of sensitive utilities. On current online maps, many power lines, power sub stations, and reservoir access points are visible only at low resolutions. However, if highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location.
Therefore, I request that your mapping programs include three separate privacy and security provisions:
1) Provide notification to communities as to when you plan to conduct mapping
2) Automatically blur photos of individuals who are captured, and give property owners the right to opt-out of having the company map their homes
3) Put protocols in place with law enforcement and local municipalities to ensure that sensitive infrastructure details are blurred from published maps
I hope that you would be willing to work with my office on this very important issue and ensure the security and privacy of all Americans.