High tech online maps coming but at what cost to privacy?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We have talked to you before about the stunning accuracy and digital quality of Google Street View.  Some countries are so concerned about this data in the wrong hands, they have won court decisions to make Google offer you an option to blur your house or building.  But the story does not end there.

Now photos will be snapped via spy planes for Google and Apple.  Most of us have come to recognize the Google street car but these spies in the sky will be virtually unnoticeable.

This has WBTV's cyber expert, Theresa Payton, alarmed because this data in the wrong hands could put not just your privacy at risk but your safety too.  She shares her thoughts:

Apple recently bought C3 technologies and the spy plane technology has already been tested in London and other cities

Google images used to come from satellite and their street car.  Now they will use spy planes.

Why this is concerning:

1.  These systems get glitches - remember how Google grabbed the WiFi network data from personal residences?

2.  If they snap photos of you on personal property how will they track you down for a personal consent form?

3.  The images online now are creepy but the resolution down at the lower levels gets grainy for the satellite photos, we will not have that issue with the spy plane photos which are taken at roughly 1500 feet

4.  One report said that the cameras are so accurate that you could photograph people in their homes through their skylights - "Honey, no need to clean those skylights anymore!"

What it will do:

1.  Google plans to have 3D images of large towns and cities online by the end of this year

2.  Apple has already unveiled its new mapping program and plans to aggressively add more photos to their maps

What Can You Do About it?:

1.  Complain directly to Apple and Google and ask for opt out and privacy features

2.  Contact your Senator or Congress representative and tell them you are concerned and that you want regular updates on this matter


If you want to voice your opinion on this, you can contact the following:

A group called the Center for Democracy and Technology has created a "Privacy Complaint Tool"

If you are unsure on how to contact your elected official, you can go to these links for this information:

For Congress

For the Senate

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.