Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Google Earth, Security and JFK

The latest news, about the recently foiled terrorist plot to blow up some major fuel cells at JFK airport, is about how Google Earth was allegedly used by the terrorists to gain aerial intelligence about the airport.

In its defense, Google is right in saying that such information is hardly limited to just Google Earth. There are several commercial sites that offer detailed aerial photography of this kind. The difference is that Google Earth, and other free sites, make obtaining the information much easier, more anonymous, and in some cases even offer tools that let you measure distances between objects. This is exactly the kind of information you would need when planning an attack of this kind.

It brings up some interesting questions about our access to technology, and the obvious question, "What do we really want to use it for?"

With sites like Windows Live Local coming into play, the issues of privacy and security become even more personal. You'll be able to get street level images of major cities, including the people walking by, and whatever happens to be in the windows.

How private can our lives be if even our homes can be invaded by cameras, and the images posted to the web, where others can access them for free, and without our consent? Technology is cool, but I think the law of "unintended consequences" is in full swing here.

No comments: