back to article World+dog discovers hi-res aerial maps, thanks to Google and Apple

While I’m happy to join in the general outrage about intrusions on our privacy, the metaphorical 72-point front-page headlines about Google and Apple display a deep ignorance about the existing, common, mundane uses of aerial imaging. When people add the words “military”, “grade”, “spy” and “imaging” into a story also …


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  1. AlexS


    The game is on, is somebody able to publish the authors address purely on the basis of the photo?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well....Privacy?

      If you go purely by the photo you would't know it's the author's. You need more context, but by then you don't need a photo to know the address.

      1. 142
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Well....Privacy?

        hmmm... it's a holiday home, which looks totally self-sufficient, so no utility bills. The only record is likely to be in the a land registry, and if he's done a strange private deal with the land owner, then it's feasible that there may not even be that paper trail.

        It's in the middle of the Southern Tablelands - something tells me it doesn't even HAVE an address beyond "Middle of Nowhere, Southern Tablelands, NSW" - do you think that dirt road has a name?

        So say, for example, His Excellency Mr Chirgwin decided to go on a puppy killing massacre, and the police needed to find him. This photo he carelessly published showing off his fancy cottage could be the only link to where he is...

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: Well....Privacy?

          Hm... don't see it on this map, though?

    2. borkbork

      Re: Well....Privacy?

      It wasn't that difficult, but I did cheat and use another information source. Do I win a prize?

      Not going to publish the address, but I don't think there will be any crazed fans turning up on the doorstep even if someone did :).

      1. AlexS

        Re: Well....Privacy?

        No address - no prize.

        Are you Jeremy Hunt?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It may be

      Sensationalist journalism, but whereas some photographs are official survey pictures they are used for a legitimate purpose.

      For Google and Apple the images are for commercial purposes. Therefore if they are for commercial purposes there must be privacy for the individual.

      On the last round of google street mapping I had to contact google because not only did it show my house and a pretty good interior shot through my front window, but it also my two children both under the age of six were clearly visible through the window. I only knew this because a neighbour using street map told me!

      I have the right to privacy, while I cannot stop official organisations from their duty and commercial organisation should ask permission. If they intend to use this to make money, because lets face it, they would not do it otherwise, I want my cut of the cash. I also demand the right that they ask my permission first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It may be

        " but it also my two children both under the age of six were clearly visible through the window."

        Oh my god ... think of the children!!!!!!!1!

        So your children were visible, and that means what? Were they naked? Are you a famous celebrity that the pictures of your kids are going to sell for thousands and you would prefer to get a cut?

        Do you not want people to know you have children - do you cover them with a veil when you go out?

      2. Torquemada28

        Re: It may be

        Why do you make a distinction between "legitimate" purposes and "commercial" purposes in this case? Whilst Google may gather this data to make money, the end user isn't paying for the service and is most likely using it for their own legitimate purposes. To boil it down; Google isn't selling pictures of your house. They provide a free service which has as many legitimate uses as any official survey pictures; probably more.

        As for privacy, I don't understand your argument for a few reasons.

        1) You claim that google violated your privacy by getting "a pretty good interior shot through my front window". Since you were the one who opened the curtains, you were apparently happy enough for anyone walking past to see inside your front room. How is that significantly different from someone "virtually" walking past your house using streetview?

        2) Your ire is increased because "my two children both under the age of six were clearly visible through the window". Are you in the witness relocation program? Do you make them wear burkas when out in public? Is there some reason why you are offended by people looking at your children? Surely, there are more strangers that would see your children out in public every day than would ever see them on streetview. If you're concerned that it shows where your kids live, you'd find that it's not really hard for someone to discover that without streetview; maybe by walking past when they're playing in the front room with the curtains open. ;)

        Also, your contention that you own the copyright to any image of your house and that a commercial entity must ask permission and financially compensate you, is just plain wrong. I can walk up to you in the street and take your picture without your permission and I don't have to pay you anything if I then sell that photo. That's because the copyright is held by the photographer, not the subject of the image. If google blurs or otherwise obscures an image at your request, don't mistake this as a right you're exercising. They do it in good faith, not because they have a legal obligation due to you holding the copyright.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: somebody able to publish the authors address

      Yes I am. But I won't.

      Respecting privacy, see.

  2. VeganVegan

    The ignorant are those that bleat the loudest

    See title

    1. Zombie Womble

      You appear very loud to me.

      See title.

      1. VeganVegan

        Re: You appear very loud to me.

        I'm guilty as charged!

        Never under-estimate the usefulness of being ignorant!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Four-inch feature??

    I've got your four-inch feature right here!

    Hang on a minute, that can't be right...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four-inch feature??

      Same here, although it seems some people like a 4 inch wide pipe...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four-inch feature??

      I used to have a one hundred and twenty inch "feature", but there was some unpleasantness with the lady next door when she mistook it for a serpent. All that remains is a mere two foot, four inches.

      - Billy.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Four-inch feature??

        Is there anyone with 4 inch diameter nipples? So, what's all this about spying on topless sunbathers then?

      2. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

        Re: Four-inch feature??

        Brilliant...haven't heard that since I was 9 - thank you for the nostalgia fix!

    3. TheRealRoland

      Re: Four-inch feature??

      Or what about 'so that your Big Ben looks like you expect'...

      Giggles :-)

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Street vs aerial

    The Street view privacy is a greater issue than the aerial photos. The Aerial photos can be an issue depending on quality, public availability and commercial use.

    1. Ru

      Re: Street vs aerial

      And more importantlly, when the image was taken.

      Street View coverage of my neighbourhood is quite detailed, but all the images are a good 5 years old. They've sent a sinister googletrike around since then to get some updated footage, but 1 year on and it still hasn't been used in the live service.

      When they move to a regular capture-and-update cycle, that's when the paranoia should kick up a notch.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Street vs aerial

        aye, we were lucky. When the google car came round all our gas mains were being dug out and our street wasnt accessible so we remain out of streetmaps. Google have yet to come round again. The bing aerial footage is quite detailed though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Street vs aerial

          If you are concerned, do like me: ask Google to not show your house. As a consequence, my house and the two left and two right of it are not visible in StreetView.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Street vs aerial

            Why do that when you could snarl in righteous outrage and demand that nobody be able to stroll by your house in blurry 2D five years ago, and instead should be limited to taking a much closer look right now in real time.

            If I wanted to case a house in the ass-end of LA, all it would net me is that there's some dude over there somewhere who got rid of a mattress in 2008. Anyone who wants to rob you, murder you, burn your house down, convert you to Jehova's Witnessessdom, or otherwise invade, attack, intrude upon, besmirch, or otherwise molest your privacy, is not going to do so by dragging the google man to a random bit of map and seeing the same damn thing he sees if he drags the google man to any other bit of random map within 20 miles.

            Without a priori knowledge, you're no more or less likely to be seen by someone using Google maps - probably less, given that people don't tend to spend hours a day driving around through Google maps, and the ones who do are unlikely to be a threat as they probably never leave their houses - than you are to be seen by someone walking by your crib.

            Unless someone already knows about your particular house, they have no reason to ever see it on Google maps, or to distinguish it in any way from any other house around. If they're the type of robber that likes to data mine, they'll be better off looking at demographics for various neighborhoods and checking things out on foot. And if they already know your address and are already interested, the presence or absence of your dwelling on Google maps is not going to be the differentiating factor.

            As was pointed out above, if there's live camera view for every house everywhere, -that- gets to be an issue, as it gives people the ability to do something they can't otherwise (if someone is casing your pad in real life, they must suffer the inconvenience of actually being there, and thus being subject to cops, attack dogs, out-of-control neighborhood watch members, etc). But as things stand, Street View adds no danger that didn't already exist.

  6. sebacoustic

    Daily Mail

    Now there's a surprise: the Daily Mail is full of shit. Who'd have guessed.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Daily Mail



      Say it isn't so!

    2. I think so I am?

      Re: Daily Mail

      full of shit............doesn't that normally happen after you've wiped you ass with it?

      1. DanDanDan

        Re: Daily Mail

        My ass? Why would I wipe Eeyore with a newspaper?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder how many people who complain about the invasion of privacy are equally at home using the free services provided by Goolge, Bing etc (other providers are available), to check where that job interview is, where the location of a hotel is, what the garden of the the odd couple at the end of the road looks like? It certainly saves time when screening properties on the old house hunt searches.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hypocrisy?


      Personally, I do not give two hoots if someone can see into my garden if I had one (disclosure, I live in an apartment). I mean what does it really matter that someone can see your kids toys, trampoline, poor attempt at mowing the lawn etc etc?

      I love the fact that I can see most places in detail it has been invaluable in finding places. I would love to know what the privacy concerns are?

    2. Raz

      Re: hypocrisy?

      There is one thing to use Google or Bing Maps like an old fashioned map, and a completely different one to take pictures of each home or building.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hypocrisy?

        ...and it's one thing to use a camera to take pictures of a waterfall, and a completely different one to have a banana for breakfast.

        What's your point? You're expecting the reader to articulate your argument for you. How does the mere fact that they're different make the second worse than the first? (Hell, it could be the other way around...)

        The big difference between them only underscores an important point: Maps, satellite photos, and street view are all completely different things, not (as seems to be assumed) escalating invasions of privacy.

        There are arguments for and against each - and if we're to ignore our own conditioning, against mapping itself - but their dissimilarity is not in itself an argument against them.

  8. frank ly

    "..your Big Ben looks like you expect."

    My Big Ben is bigger than four inches and It's not available on the internet.

    1. mhenriday

      Re: "..your Big Ben looks like you expect."

      «Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.» Mark Twain...


  9. Anonymous Coward

    Daily Mail

    A Daily Mail reporter wouldn't know "Military Grade Hardware" if they'd noshed it off at the local dogging spot.

  10. hballz

    Who is World+Dog? Why is it in your title? Why is there no reference to it in your article?

    Take it out.


    1. Ambivalous Crowboard
      Thumb Down

      You must be new here.


  11. Drew 6
    Big Brother

    Nothing new in this, just getting easier for the rest of us. has been my Google Earth replacement for several years. You can see the shadows of powerlines. And I'm only using the free access level. Wonder how much I could see on the paid for level. What's more there's a timeline.

    Heard of someone getting fined by their local council, for too many cars on their property. They wondered who had been spying over their high fences, until they were shown the aerial image. Busted!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just had a look at It only appears to cover Australia, so unless your interests are sheep-shagging and deserts, look elsewhere.

    2. D@v3
      Thumb Down


      I'm sure it's fine if you live in Oz, but for the rest of the world, including the bits i live in, i think i'll stick with the chocolate factory for now.

    3. FlatEarther
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nearmap

      Nearmap is excellent. I can see progressive images of my new house under construction as they did a new image about every month.

      It's great for real estate hunting, but I still use google maps for street view and finding some addresses.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A New Twist on An Old Schoolboy Joke

    I know how to make my willy ten inches long!


    Zoom in on it in Google Earth!

    (Just for reference, tie a knot in it was the original answer)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The original answer ...Wrong!

      Was Fold it in half

      Tying a knot in it must have been something else


  13. Anonymous Coward

    "Is it instrusive? Certainly. Is it smart for a serial privacy invader like the Chocolate Factory and a conscienceless monolith like Apple to race each other to find nude sunbathers in their own backyards, all the world over? Certainly not." For crying out loud, grow up!

    However there's no chance of you being in the image of your house is there? Because you don't get out enough.

    What is it with this hysterical paranoid jumping up and down about Google invading privacy?

    What about the very real continual, much more thorough and sinister logging and watching of our lives by governments and their agencies? All unaccountable and acting within the laws they created.

    Ah, but they're not the currently fashionable bad guys like Google and Apple are they? A smoke screen to divert the easily lead, who faithfully jump on the bandwagon and blow it all up out of proportion.

    Google aren't squeaky clean, but they're a damned sight cleaner than any government/police/security agency.

    1. Juan Inamillion

      Agreed. In most cities, particularly large ones like London etc, members of the public on on CCTV constantly as they move around, not only on streets but in corridors, shops elevators etc ad infinitum. Apart from the occasional bleat from tree-huggers, nary a word is said about it. And this is FAR more insidious and intrusive than you can imagine. Where do you think all those dodgy videos and images come from that appear on teh interwebs?

      Exactly as the man says, it's WHO is using the data that's the problem....

      Just my 2p's worth....

  14. Ivan Headache

    Image resolution

    Some time ago, Shortly after Google Earth appeared, there were some incredibly detailed aerial pictures on GE.

    As everyone did, I went looking at all the places I knew and found some amazing pictures in Holland.

    In Den Haag, thre is a model village called Madurodam. The detail on the buildings was quite impressive - better than the current detail on the images of my house. It was only when you realise that the shdows of people are much bigger do you realise that thes buildings are only about a metre wide. Zoom up a little and the image takes on a whole new dimension.

    Just to the north of Madurodam on the perimiter road of Den Haag, is the prison where attendees to the International Criminal Court are kept. In the proson is a nice tennis court and a nice excercise yard.

    Not there now but at the time, the were some people playing tennis. The resolution was so high that I am sure that the players could have identified themselves by their clothing, The shadow cast by the net was so detailed that the holes were clearly visible. In the exercise yard man was doing press-ups while 3 others looked on.

    The pictures have since changed and the tennis court is now in shadow, but in the excercise yard you can still see the cracks between the paving stones.

  15. Trainee grumpy old ****
    Big Brother

    Military grade?

    What about the <insert spy agency of choice> grade long lenses used by the tabloids' favourite paparazzi?

  16. mark 63 Silver badge

    Military Grade

    I find the expression "Military Grade" upsetting

    its never "scientific grade" or "enthusiast grade"

    It just confirms that as race all our best efforts go into killing each other.

  17. Spoonsinger

    What is this? A centre for ants?

    The building has to be at least... three times bigger than this!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "this kit passed some vibration tests"

    Military grade vibrators. For her and for him. With extra free foldable solar panels, for long-lasting power in the field. Doubles as a sun shade. Vibration resistant. Environment-friendly. Naturally.

  19. Wize

    "the main game is to sprinkle some search engine optimization fairy-dust into the piece"

    Which you have done quite nicely.

  20. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    Military grade

    In my experience this is code for:

    # Five times the price

    # Four times the weight

    # Three times the size

    # Twice the power consumption

    # But otherwise the same as commercial tech from 10 years ago*.

    *with the inclusion of essential features such as:

    ability to: withstand nuclear assault, be buried in sand for an indefinite period, be used as a melé weapon, be used as an axle-stand for an armoured vehicle, be operated by an arthritic elephant wearing boxing gloves, all of which account for the forementioned multipliers.

    Military kit != Cutting edge tech

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Military grade

      I know someone who works as a gas/electric engineer for Aga Rayburn. All the PCBs that go in their ranges are mil-spec.

      Are they expected to withstand nuclear assault? Probably not. However, they do stand up to the sort of temperature you might find within the workings of an oven quite well. You could use normal kit, but it probably wouldn't last very long.

      Dunno how well you could use a couple of hundred kilos of Aga as a melee weapon either, but I'm told with good authority that you don't want to be underneath one when it falls down the stairs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Military grade

      "Military kit != Cutting edge tech"

      If you view Boston Dynamics' gear - robots of which some can, if I recall correctly, jump ten meters in the air into an open window and then run around in the room relaying video, killing your doods, etc, and others of which have control algorithms capable of making a four-legged robot able to trot on ice and scramble for traction if pushed - if that's ten years out of date, then you must be seeing some pretty awesome commercial tech.

      The guns that shoot around corners, armor that jumps off the tank and blows up a shell before it arrives, and other such things don't seem terribly ancient either, and they're years old. I was at a couple of IITSEC shows in 2006 and 2007, and companies were demoing full color laser projectors running very bright 100" screens at ~8000x6000 resolution. Did you have a cheap 8k by 6k laser projector in 1996? Do you have one now? Before I mentioned it, did you even know you could get one, six years after I saw it at a trade show? If so, I'd rather like to know who makes it.

      The US military, at least, has shifted significantly to COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) stuff in recent years, and while they buy expensive stuff, low-volume, tough, new gear is expensive. The air force will probably spend far more on a computer you would consider 'not cutting edge', but that is likely because your Dell will not work when *strapped to the end of a fucking cruise missile*.

      And off of this is stuff I happen to have stumbled across in The Economist or at a trade show or (gasp) in Lewis Page articles. I am assuming it doesn't encompass the full scope of nifty stuff the military has to offer.

      The military spends money on some stupid things. It has also spent money coming up with some useful things, like the internet. Making a blanket statement like, 'military kit != cutting edge' is pointless and incorrect.

  21. David_H

    Military Grade

    How about latest Nvidia and Intel processors, soon after they are released, but made to work <these are the bits you are paying for> after a night in a tank in a freezing Siberian winter,and working in a helicopter in Iraq, and in the latest fighter jet, and on commercial spacecraft. The specifications for 'proper' mil-aero kit covers all of this on every board/box. Now you have to make it fan-less, and provide extended lives much greater than commerical boards, and be able to repair it for at least 10-15 years.

    Try looking at GE Intelligent Platforms, or Curtiss-Wright for Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) boards that have all of this.

    Damn! Have I just risen to a troll?

  22. John A Blackley


    People getting all bent out of shape about Google and Apple mapping their streets while (chances are) these people are not actually........ in their streets.

    And yet they sat still for (in Britain at least), surveillance cameras on every street corner (and many places in between), their personal details being strewn about landfills and dumpsters, their health information being aggregated in government databases, their financial information being sold to the highest bidder, and on and on and on.

    Funny things, folk.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Shane McCarrick

    Big Ben Comparison?

    You do realise Big Ben is the bell- and not the tower?

    1. John McCallum

      Re: Big Ben Comparison?

      That may or may not be the Big Ben he is talking about.What with the Ausie way with uphamisims and all that.

    2. Juan Inamillion

      Re: Big Ben Comparison?

      It may be the end of the bell as we know it...

      Yes yes I know.

  24. veskebjorn

    Off topic but urgent, maybe

    I greatly admire Mr. Chirgwin's understanding of and devotion to the scientific method. I appreciate his calm (by Reg standards), fact-centered pieces about all manner of things. I hope that his recent piece about anthropogenic ocean warming is not an RGE (Resume Generating Event).

    The mystical pipes of the interweb reveal that Mr. Chirgwin lives somewhere near Sydney in Australia. This area experiences frequent, devastating bushfires. Far more readily visible than the 4-inch water pipe is the space between the vegetation and the buildings, which is almost nil.

    As a denizen of one of California's coastal mountain ranges, which area is both a temperate rain forest in winter and a tinderbox in summer, I know that Mr. Chirgwin's little compound will be reduced to its presumably concrete foundations should the bush start burning in his area--unless he provides a a firebreak of at least 30 feet between the buildings and the vegetation. For the benefit of those poor souls forced to use the metric system (which I regard as the most evil product of the French Enlightenment, surpassing even the guillotine), 30 feet best translates to 10 meters, which provides a bit more open space and, hence, a bit more safety. I urgently commend this idea to Mr. Chirgwin.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off topic but urgent, maybe

      Well, there goes a flawless insurance fraud scheme ruined. I hope you're pleased with yourself.

  25. Hawkmoth

    get over it already

    The only people to whom this is a news story are people who've only just discovered that high resolution imagery has been publicly available through your state government for at least 40 years. In the northeast US at least, Google itself often uses imagery taken by state government for resource management and emergency preparedness, offering us all a great convenience. States have been taking this imagery for decades. The ONLY things new are now:

    a) you don't have to sit in the basement office of the state EMA going blind looking through a stereoscope

    b) pay $100/square mile for prints of orthophotos

    c) train for months in GIS and then shell out a couple thousand bucks to ESRI for software that can open files that have been publicly available states' websites for at least a dozen years

    d) get a private pilot's license or charter a plane and take your own imagery.

    I say "you go Google, thanks for democratizing aerial imagery." And to the privacy paranoids, if you don't like what your yard looks like from above, tough. Who says you have a right to invisibility when viewed from higher than street level?

  26. whatsa

    3D modeling?

    Already done for

    guys.... have had this for over a year.

    google and apple are so far behind in this area and really not worth using if you want 3D street level view.

  27. A.A.Hamilton

    "'s my house..."

    ...which proves to me I was always in the wrong career in the wrong place. Damn, too late now.

  28. Dogsauce
    Thumb Down

    I'm just disappointed that none of my cats are visible on Google Earth or Streetview, and they're larger than 4" in any plane. Google obviously doesn't have hardware with the capability to negate feline cloaking devices.

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