13 Aug. 2007

Google's Blurry Vision On APEC

Shame on Google. If you are going to bow to government pressure and doctor your images, at least have the guts to admit it. Google has some form here, so the denial is worse than feeble.
Curiously, the high-resolution satellite images, which were introduced as part of a Google Maps Australia upgrade earlier this year, appear to have been rolled back to lower quality versions for the Sydney CBD only, and not for suburbs like Bondi Beach and Point Piper.

For instance, Google Maps sightseers could previously make out details like the colour and type of clothing worn by people walking on the Sydney Opera House steps, but now it is mostly a blur.

The Opera House, along with NSW Government House and the Sydney Convention Centre, will be shut to the public and fenced off during the APEC summit, which starts on September 2.

More than 5000 police and army personnel have been assigned to lock down the city over APEC week and security will be at its highest on the long weekend beginning September 7.

Another anomaly suggesting the images may have been manually censored is the fact that certain objects, such as individual boats on the harbour, appear crisp and detailed in the images but the area immediately surrounding them is now fuzzy.

"This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with APEC," said Google Australia spokesman Rob Shilkin.

"We're re-sourcing our imagery for parts of Sydney as a result of a commercial issue with one of our suppliers, so some of the highest-res images have been temporarily replaced."
So who is this mysterious "supplier"? The Department of Defence? NASA?

The fact that targets like Lucas Heights remain uncensored makes the whole thing even more ridiculous.