Google Street View has been known to preserve records of crimes past. Now, a Long Island town is using Google Earth satellite images to go after rule-breakers. Riverhead has busted 250 homeowners for backyard pools constructed without proper permits. Creepy!
Sean Walter, an attorney and first-term town supervisor in Riverhead, N.Y., insists he is a staunch defender of privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
But Walter supported using Google Earth images to help identify about 250 Riverhead homes where residents failed to get building permits certifying their swimming pools complied with safety regulations. All but about 10 eventually came to town hall.
Google Earth has also become an important tool for the FBI, though they're not saying what they use it for. According to federal contract records reviewed by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, the FBI has spent more than $600,000 on Google Earth since 2007, with $320,000 spent on a product called Google Earth Fusion. Fusion "allows organizations which already possess their own data to input this information into Google Earth and display it in geospatial form," according to Consumer Watchdog.