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Apple and Google: the two Big Brothers?

June 21, 2012
In the age of knowledge (aka today), privacy is as big of a problem as can be conceived, a problem that Google and Apple both know very well, given that both tech giants have been the target of numerous privacy concerns over the past few years. But if a New York Senator is to be believed, the biggest of our privacy concerns (or at least one of them) should be pointed towards the new 3D mapping services war that that’s currently going on between Apple and Google.

On Monday, Schumer has accused both Apple and Google of an “an unprecedented invasion of privacy” by using “military-grade spy planes with enough precision to see through windows, catch detailed images of private backyard activities, and record images as small as four inches”. Schumer’s staff has already met with Google officials on Monday and have a meeting planned with Apple for Friday, all in an effort to clarify the need for a thorough selection of the images published.

Google responded that they do not see the need for blurring the aerial pictures as the resolution is not sharp enough for privacy to be a concern. According to the search giant, their planes (or fleet of planes) fly in a tight pattern over metropolitan areas and take pictures at a 45 degree angle. Those pictures are then combined with 3D models of buildings and cityscapes that will eventually become available for browsing using Google Maps.

On the other side, Apple has announced that their images are stripped of all identifiable details such as faces or license plates, and that they “create optimized pictures taken from multiple shots and remove moving objects such as cars and people from the final image“.

Although both statements explicitly state that no identifiable details will be visible in the end product, I’m sure that we can all see the potential danger here. It’s not about what Apple and Google decide to do with their photos that’s important, but rather the fact that all these photos lie in their database, and could be further analyzed with whichever intention they like. How big will we allow the Big Brother to become? Share a thought in the comment section below!