Remember last fall, when people were terrified that pedophiles were using Google Streetview to find parks and schools so they could more readily find their young victims?
Apparently a California legislator has been listening to them, or someone like them.
Last month, California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, introduced a bill to limit the amount of detail someone could see on screen using online mapping tools such as Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and Google Streetview. It also calls for fines of up to $250,000 per day.
In particular, the bill -- which has been languishing in the Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media since March 4, and won't be heard before March 27, if then -- says the mapping tools can't display a school or place of worship, or a government or medical building or facility, unless those photographs or images have been blurred.
Anderson's concern (expressed in his recent op-ed "Google Earth Should Stop Helping Hate Groups & Terrorists") is that terrorists will use the software's images to decide where to put bombs.
Aside from the fact that, were the bill to be implemented, all terrorists would have to do is look for blurry pictures and plant bombs there, Anderson's bill has the same flaws and inappropriately blames technology in the same way that the Pedophiles on Streeview did: Numerous other sources of the same information exist -- including other online maps, paper maps, telephone books, and even public signs.
On the other hand, maybe public buildings need protection after all. In the U.K., a man reportedly used Google Earth to pinpoint old buildings with lead roofs, in order to steal the material. His 30 thefts netted him a dollar value of more than 100,000 U.K. pounds' worth of the material.