The Clouds Are Watching: Google Decides to Zoom In On Your ‘Privacy’

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Ever feel like you’re being watched?

Well, in a way, even if you’re soaking up rays in your backyard, sipping a martini, and reading your favorite graphic novel… you’re still being watched.

However, up until this past Wednesday, Big Data could see you as a blob, floating on a larger blob, which bears the resemblance of a patio.  Their legally allowed resolution was once 50cm – but when August 13, 2014 rolled around, the US government relaxed its restrictions down to 25cm.

DigitalGlobe’s Manhole Viewer

Essentially, they’d be able to clearly identify “manholes and mailboxes,”according to Elyse Wanshel of Motherboard.  With that said, if you’re reclining in your lazy lawn chair, they’d be able to see what you were wearing.  But at 25cm, they still can’t quite make out a face – at least not yet.

DigitalGlobe is the main player in bribing lobbying the US government into allowing for more and more relaxed restrictions.  One reason they’re able to have such sway in DC is because many of DigitalGlobe’s loyal customers are federal agencies, and of course, Google.  (And as Mr. Snowden told us, Google is fairly chummy with the NSA).

This could also be another reason why the government’s go-to manhole viewer satellite company is even pushing for 10cm resolution.

Which could tell if you own an Android or an iPhone or that you’ve decided to grow out your beard this week.

Creepy?

Well, it doesn’t exactly stop there.

Google Flips Their Own Bird

Right now, we know that military spy satellite capabilities can take still photographs, but Google might soon make the Pentagon look like they’re trying to draw in crayon.  In fact, they’d be able to capture 90-second vids at 30fps with a 1-meter resolution (which isn’t exactly fantabulous, but it still marches us closer to realtime eye-in-the-sky viewing). Basically, they wouldn’t be able to tell if you drive a VW Beetle or a piece of farming equipment to work every day.

Their program for this will be called “Skybox,” and is projected to have 24 satellites orbiting your backyard patio by 2018.

Ok, here’s the creepiest part.

Google would be snapping shots of the entire globe three times a day, 24-7, 365.  They’d be able to identify where your car is three times a day, whether you shoveled your driveway from last night’s snow three times a day, and if you didn’t really have a “back ache” when you called in sick and instead decided to go to Comic-Con this weekend… three times a day.

Will this info be available to the public?  Who the heck knows? But Google Glass left a bad taste in my mouth, so I’m not really going to trust them with these kinds of things.

And you thought people were joking when they said that Google “rules the world.”

What To Make of It All?

Essentially, Google (and lots of other Big Data dudes) already know more about your lifestyle than your BFF – and if they really, really wanted to focus in on your life, they could probably predict what you’re going to think before you think it.

But with the satellite imagery capabilities that are currently in development, they may soon be able to see a face, a license plate, and whether you went with your favorite t-shirt today.

I suppose it comes down to a matter of trust in the end.

Should we trust these guys knowing our daily business?  I mean, what are they going to do with all that data?  You’ve got nothing to hide, right?

But then, I have to ask:

Why do they really want all that data in the first place?  What are they getting out of all this, and is this even good for us?

Quite frankly, if they’re going to look at us, then they should be quite alright with the public looking right back at them.  That sounds pretty fair, doesn’t it?

Image Credit: Roger Wollstadt (via Flickr)


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