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Chuck Schumer Tells Apple and Google To "Curb Your Spy Planes" 302

Posted by timothy
from the moral-panic-from-his-high-horseness dept.
mk1004 writes with news from The Register that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York has written to Apple and Google regarding their use of 'military-grade spy planes.' The Senator claims concerns ranging from voyeurism to terrorism. Suggested protections: Warn when areas are going to be imaged, give property owners the right to opt out, and blurring of individuals. Schumer seems happy enough, though, with the more detailed versions of such surveillance being in the hands of law enforcement agencies, and phrases his complaint to emphasize what he perceives as risks to infrastructure brought about by detailed maps that anyone can browse: "[I]f highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location."
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Chuck Schumer Tells Apple and Google To "Curb Your Spy Planes"

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  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#40386111) Journal

    Nice grandstanding. Have you seen the Planet Earth series? I'd say that's probably better than "military grade" video. Actually, there's a lot of stuff out there better than military grade. Get over it.

    Aside from being able to map out things from the comfort of your Abbottabad living room using a single source instead of doing regular old recon (it's not hard, or particularly obvious), there's no change except a perceptual one. He is correct that it is effectively impossible to secure every location. A better plan would be to build in the redundancy that should have been there in the first place. If my power goes out - way out in the country - for a week, it sucks to be me, but the 30,000 of us can manage. If power to the east coast goes out for a week, that's really, really bad. Perhaps you should consider a more robust system that is less prone to single point failures?

  • Re:fear everything! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:56AM (#40386185)

    Private individuals as well as corporations have been doing areal photography for private use since around 1860.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:01PM (#40386267)

    GPS used to have a 1km fudge factor inserted into it to prevent people using it for terrorist activities.

    LOL rewriting history .mil always had the high precision codes, at least I/we did in the early 90s. I forget the nickname our handbag sized GPS receivers had, it was a long time ago. The main point was making sure our grunts on the ground could give their exact grid square to artillery support, but the other guys wouldn't have the tech. Eventually it became fairly pointless to restrict anymore, once everyone had cheap RX and it never really materialized as a tactical problem.

    Also some concern about ICBM and cruise missile nav points.

    It was never, until post 9/11 history rewriting, about terrorism.

    To some extent, I can't figure out what to do from a terror standpoint with high accuracy GPS positions that wouldn't be just as scary with low precision.

  • Re:well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:06PM (#40386327) Journal

    You do realize that Chuck Schumer is a Democrat, right? Definitely not a Tea Party guy.

    Fail

  • by oobayly (1056050) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:13PM (#40386431)

    You're thinking of Selective Availability [wikipedia.org], which degraded precision giving errors of up to 100m, not 1,000m. As others said it was done to prevent foreign military from using the full capabilities of GPS,

    As a bit of an anecdote, I remember my uncle complaining of how his GPS was inaccurate compared to the previous day whilest laying marks for some dinghy racing. I made a quip about the Americans probably bombing some country. That evening the news was full of pictures of Tomahawks being fired into Afganistan [wikipedia.org]. I became a bit more careful making facetious comments that day.

  • by Zerth (26112) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:29PM (#40386661)

    Plus, if you want a complete map of the water infrastructure, you can just asked the water company and they will /give/ it to you.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:39PM (#40386795) Homepage Journal

    That's probably because the entire Republican Party has been trying to outdo itself for years in saying stupid things to attract fringe votes and big donors, and it is organized and disciplined about staying on message.

    "Organized" and "disciplined" are /not/ things that one can say about their opposition, so it's really just Chuck Schumer being an ignorant ass.

  • by malakai (136531) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:49PM (#40386917) Journal

    I think GP was talking about Selective Availability (SA). Basically an intentional error that limited accuracy of commercial GPS to 30-100m. It was turned off 5/2/2000. Ever since then we've had 95% 10m accuracy, but the DOD has the ability to selectively re-enable SA on individual satellites. The thought being, if we see a couple of cruise missiles ( or a missile boat ) within range of the US, we can disrupt GPS so it can't be used against us. As a defensive layer, this ability no longer packs the same punch as it did back in the day. Terrain contour matching ( TERCOM ) is cheap and 'easy' these days with the processors and power available to avionic packages. I don't doubt if you google for it, someone's built a TERCOM system for their hobby RC plane by now.

    Either way, it wasn't about _terrorism_ so much as it was about nation vs nation war.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:00PM (#40387083)

    I think GP was talking about Selective Availability (SA). Basically an intentional error that limited accuracy of commercial GPS to 30-100m. It was turned off 5/2/2000. Ever since then we've had 95% 10m accuracy, but the DOD has the ability to selectively re-enable SA on individual satellites. The thought being, if we see a couple of cruise missiles ( or a missile boat ) within range of the US, we can disrupt GPS so it can't be used against us. As a defensive layer, this ability no longer packs the same punch as it did back in the day. Terrain contour matching ( TERCOM ) is cheap and 'easy' these days with the processors and power available to avionic packages. I don't doubt if you google for it, someone's built a TERCOM system for their hobby RC plane by now.

    There's actually another aspect of GPS that's little known - there are limits placed on GPS receivers by the government. Basically a civillian (C/A) receiver must disable itself once its calculated speed and altitude go above certain limits (CoCom Limits [wikipedia.org]), meant to prevent their use in missiles and such.

    While most people won't reach the speed limits, people have reached the height limits when doing "space" photography using weather balloons. They consistently lose their GPS telemetry data at that point.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:01PM (#40387099)

    "If Chucky and his TLA buddies can fly a drone over me, I should be able to fly a drone over Chucky & friends."

    He also wants to disarm you since he clearly knows best how to run a society.

    http://www.nraila.org/legislation/federal-legislation/2011/3/schumer-bill-includes-steps-toward-fede.aspx [nraila.org]

    The Second Amendment codifies the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to embed the capability for revolution in US society, which was founded by revolution. Those who would take your weapons would make you slaves.

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