Is your backyard being watched?
Is your back yard, fenced or not, being spied upon? Not just from the neighbors or passer-by’s, but from the sky? Consider this your warning. It’s been discovered that city officials in one town on New York’s Long Island is using Google Earth to crack down on pool owners without permits, and some privacy advocates say the notion reeks of “Big Brother.” Administrators in the town of Riverhead, NY are taking it upon themselves to make sure that every structure is safe, up to code, and on the books. Of course, turning to the internet is the fastest and cheapest way to do just that. They soon came to find that not only did people have expired pool permits, but some were lacking the permits entirely. In fact, it turns out there were close to 250 pool owners with no permits. The town has been able to get in touch with almost all of the pool owners and as of this week, only 26 are not in total compliance. Although, privacy advocates are sounding an alarm on the practice, and say there needs to be more done to protect the rights of residents. According to one Google spokesperson, “Google Earth is built from information that is available from a broad range of both commercial and public sources. The same information is available to anyone who buys it from these widely-available public sources. Google’s freely available technology has been used for a variety of purposes ranging from travel planning to scientific research to emergency response, rescue, and relief in natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti Earthquake.” After all, it’s not illegal, and anyone can use Google Earth. Just remember, the eye in the sky is always watching.