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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 Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:43AM (#40385987)

    that "WTSHTF" is often referred to as "When the Schumer Hits the Fan".

  • by RapidEye (322253) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:43AM (#40385993) Homepage

    So what is Chuck doing in his back yard that he doesn't want everyone to see, hmmm????

  • Come on there must be better way... Perhaps by having a raid array of the appropriate infrastructure?

    • by Zerth (26112) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:29AM (#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 ff1324 (783953) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:15PM (#40388019)

        You can ask, but you can't get it. At least not here.

        We purchased ArcGIS to evaluate our responses at the fire department I work for. The county, highway department, assessors office, and other 911 centers were more than happy to share data with us. The water company wouldn't. We were originally told their security policy would not allow them to share data with us.

        That's right. The water company could not tell the fire department where the fire hydrants are because of security policy.

        Total WTF moment...

        • No no no, you see that would make sense. The government at no point whatsoever should attempt to make sense, if making of sense is found to have happened it must be destroyed ASAP.
          I as an independent citizen must also not have access to water company information before I dig, because that too would make sense, hence the river through my backyard when a neighbor (who *did* call first) ruptured an 8 inch main.
          If I was a terrorist, planning on causing a pressure fault in one segment of water service while ind

  • fear everything! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:44AM (#40386011)

    let's completely ignore the societal and economic benefits of such technology because ... fear, people. Fear.

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:47AM (#40386055) Homepage Journal

      Yeah.. give corporations the same rights as governments. That always works out for the best.

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

        by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:56AM (#40386185)

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

        • by Jeng (926980)

          *Aerial photography.

          Damn typo

        • by Stele (9443)

          Yeah yeah but where is the areola photography?

      • by khipu (2511498)

        Give corporations the same rights as any other group of people, no more and no less.

      • Only the government has the right to take pictures from the air? What constitution are you reading?

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:48AM (#40386071)

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

    Not that I'm entirely sure how I feel about Google using drones to improve Google Earth. If I have a privacy fence up... well, it's to protect my privacy. Taking pictures from a low flying drone isn't much different than leaning a ladder against the fence and climbing up to peer over. On the other hand, it's a one time thing (or at least rare) and the same viewing angle can be achieved any number of ways that people don't have a problem with (if nothing else manned aircraft). I think I'm actually going to have to think about this one a bit...

    • I wouldn't want someone to be watching me in real-time, but I'd be ok with a snapshot of my property every few years - especially given the potential advantages.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bigby (659157)

        What about someone's freedom to watch you real-time? You need to take appropriate measures to stop it by being on private property inside a building and away from windows. It is your responsibility to protect your privacy.

        As mentioned in another window, wait for things like Google Glasses. Everything could be recorded everywhere. You can't make the glasses illegal. You can't make a law that says, "When technology is too good, it can't do this or that".

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        Your local tax board wants a snapshot of your property every few years as well. If a tree falls down and reveals a mountain-top view they can increase the taxable value of your home by another $100k.

    • by Gription (1006467)
      It wasn't "to prevent people using it for terrorist activities". This was before the 911 "hide in your closet" era. They were protecting against foreign countries using the system.
    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:01AM (#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.

      • by Jeng (926980)

        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.

        Why with that information terrorists could drop anthrax right down your AC duct from 20,000 feet!!!!

        Or maybe not.

      • by tqk (413719)

        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.

        How unimaginative you are. High accuracy would enable you to fly a swarm of C4 laden RC planes into the center court of the Pentagon, or to the front doors of Congress.

        I've read of plenty of battles where the opposing sides were a lot closer than one klick away from each other. Should the "fast movers" take out their guys, your guys, or does it matter?

        • by Nimey (114278)

          The Pentagon and Capitol are big buildings with well-known locations, you know.

          I'll assume Poe's Law here and acknowledge the same is true of electrical substations and the like.

      • by malakai (136531) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:49AM (#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) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:00PM (#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 Bigby (659157) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:09AM (#40386373)

      I really fail to see how this should be treated any different than someone flying 100 ft or 10,000 ft over your house and looking down. Just because the camera is insanely better than a human eye and it can be stored perpetually should be inconsequential. If you want progress, you can't legislate technology. This is like Google driving around on public roads to take pictures and collect WiFi info. Just because they did it on a large scale shouldn't make it illegal. These arbitrary lines drawn by government (or people simply requesting them) are crazy.

      When you have a neighbor, you put up a fence. If someone looks over the fence, too bad for you; build it higher. If someone flies over the top, put a roof up.

      Wait until we have contact lenses like the Google Glasses. These arbitrary lines are going to stop innovation. You won't be able to use it because it can process too much information, when it would probably revolutionize society.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RobertLTux (260313)

        the thing is tech should always be "polite" when it has capabilities to this level.

        I have no problems with a sat shot of my house every 9 months or so.

        what i have a problem with is somebody filming my house 24/7/52

        photo showing that my backyard has a pool = not a problem
        film of my 5 year old daughter swimming in said pool = BIG PROBLEM

        so your rights to film my property end at the point where my rights to forcefully defend said property.

        (aka i need to be able to file an OPT OUT with you)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bigby (659157)

          That is an administrative nightmare. You are drawing up exceptions to the freedom of another individual. Do you own the image/video of yourself and/or your property?

          I understand that you would WANT it to be illegal for someone to watch your 5 yr old daughter swimming, but what about the freedom of someone else watching them? Do you draw the line with video cameras? The risk, because private property is everywhere, is that video cameras would then be illegal. Eventually, all technology would be illegal,

          • "That is an administrative nightmare. You are drawing up exceptions to the freedom of another individual. Do you own the image/video of yourself and/or your property?"

            actually yes i do which is why any professional gets waivers/arranges payment in these types of cases.

            and again your "rights" to watch anything in my backyard end where my ability to defend my backyard ends.

            • by khipu (2511498)

              actually yes i do which is why any professional gets waivers/arranges payment in these types of cases.

              Professionals get waivers in order to be able to use the pictures commercially. You do not need a waiver or permission to take anybody's picture anywhere, except truly private locations (changing rooms, bathrooms).

              and again your "rights" to watch anything in my backyard end where my ability to defend my backyard ends.

              You indeed have a "right to defend your backyard": with hedges, trees, and fences. Beyond

          • by Kelbear (870538)

            Not everything needs to be dragged out towards logcal absurdity.

            I think it's fairly obvious that there is both a need for technological advancement, as well as respect for privacy. New technology is new. Iterative changes can accumulate into something substantially different. With new technology, we have new problems that need to be addressed, and can't be handwaved away by clinging to old solutions that account for the changes that have since taken place.

            Let the aerial technology work, but require an opt-o

    • by oobayly (1056050) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:13AM (#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.

    • Not that I'm entirely sure how I feel about Google using drones to improve Google Earth.

      Who says that Google (or Apple) is using drones for this? I have seen no source that indicates the photographs are taken from drones, but this thread is full of people talking about drones. Does anyone have a source for these claims? I was under the impression that these pictures were being taken from regular airplanes.

  • by Revvy (617529) * on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:49AM (#40386073) Homepage
    Senator Schumer,

    You seem to be arguing that drone usage by private companies violates the privacy and/or security of the American public. Many people agree with that. Additionally, many people agree that drone usage by Law Enforcement Agencies and US Federal Agencies also violates the privacy and/or security of the American public.

    I find it hypocritical, then, that you would simultaneously support the use of armed drones in the US by Federal Agencies and Law Enforcement while objecting to unarmed drone use by private enterprise. Perhaps I'm not understanding your position clearly. Perhaps, and I believe this to be more likely, I am.

    -----
    Your lips are moving.
    • by Mr 44 (180750) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:15AM (#40386475)

      Chuck Schumer is one of the biggest pro-government control-freak assholes in congress. He has no qualms bending logic, twisting and lying to spin whatever propoganda he needs to in order to advance his agenda. He has never met a law he didn't like, and works to restrict freedom with his every move.

      This is only latest in a decades long series of moves by him.

      See:
      Chuck Schumer vs. Free Speech [wsj.com]

      Schumer Among Biggest Supporters of Anti-Piracy Laws [patch.com] (He was a co-sponsor of SOPA and PIPA)

      Schumer's racket: Lobbyists and hedge funds [washingtonexaminer.com]

      Schumer proposes new federal regulations on grill brushes [motorcitytimes.com]

      And since the above links are all pretty recent, here's some Schumer history: [talkleft.com]

      On the eve of the first anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing in April, 1996, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Democrats were very disappointed, however, because the bill passed without proposed expansions of wiretapping authority. In May 1996, Reps. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduced H.R. 3409 "to combat domestic terrorism."

      The bill, titled the "Effective Anti-Terrorism Tools for Law Enforcement Act of 1996," would expand the powers granted to the FBI to engage in multi- point (roving) wiretaps and emergency wiretaps without court orders, and to access an individual's hotel and vehicle and storage facility rental records. It also relaxed the requirements for obtaining pen register and trap and trace orders in foreign intelligence investigations.

      • by DCFusor (1763438)
        I wish whoever votes for this asshat would start voting differently. He's completely central-statist and elitist. You left out the anti-gun stuff above BTW.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:51AM (#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?

    • by Bigby (659157)

      I worked for a company that managed power lines and has the data of every pole. There was no explicit secretive part to dealing with the data.

      However, I do remember when hot weather and then overload eventually caused the blackout in Cleveland, which spread to Detroit, Buffalo, and NYC. The grid is quite fragile.

  • Now I know how Streisand felt.
  • Schumer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Schumer doesn't give a rat's behind about privacy. What he cares about is calling attention to himself so that he can go on bullying the private sector from his imperial senate seat

  • If civilian companies have them.

    Especially if those companies don't have any military ties.

    This is the same reason my GPU isn't a military grade device.

    • by PPH (736903)

      That's a gray area. It used to be that anything useful to the DoD could get listed as 'dual use' technology. Encryption technology was one instance of this policy. Until it became evident that the loss of commercial utility due to development going offshore seriously outweighed the benefits of keeping export restrictions.

      Some years ago, the Pentagon could sit down with your engineering/sales staff and negotiate the acquisition of some product to their specifications. If their specification was nothing more

  • "[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."

    Right...because today, every square inch of the undocumented US infrastructure is completely secure. /sarcasm

    • "[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."

      Right...because today, every square inch of the undocumented US infrastructure is completely secure. /sarcasm

      Most of it is heavily documented and much of that information is avaliable to the public.

      I can go to my counties web site and download prerendered maps and shapefiles detailing our aquifer and locations of every well in the system.

      Detailed maps of the national energy grid including capacities of each line is also freely avaliable.

      I hate fear mongers, spies and stalkers. Using fear mongering as the basis for attacking spies and stalkers makes me sad.

  • so the kinds of criminals that would know what to do with maps of infrastructure are too lazy or stupid or broke to get that information until google or apple provides it to them. would those maps make it easier for them? sure. just like a vehicle would help them getaway or a cell phone would help them communicate with each other, or a computer would help them plan a crime, or the weather channel would help them choose what day to commit a crime, etc.
  • I don't think it's possible to support privacy more than I do. But if you step foot outside of your living space, you have entered a public area. You may be seen by other people, your conversation can be overheard, and people are free to record your image and conversation via photographs, video recordings, or audio recordings. If you do not like this, you are free to refrain from leaving your living space or wear a disguise when you go out.
  • 4inches (Score:4, Funny)

    by I Read Good (2348294) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:28AM (#40386639)

    FTA: "...Google and Apple have upgraded their capabilities to aircraft-based photography that can see through windows and capture detailed images with four-inch resolution."

    Four-inch resolution? I guess I don't have anything to worry about!

  • I am tired of sensationalizing politicians and the government using the fear of terrorism, or even perversion as an excuse to curtail freedom.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:40AM (#40386813)

    You first, Chucky!

    Yet another mealy-mouthed, two-faced, lying, dinosaur of a career politician that should be swinging from the end of a rope instead of being in a position of government power.

    A Google drone might spot a greenhouse in my backyard and target horticultural product ads at me. The horror!

    A government drone might spot the same greenhouse and target a SWAT raid on me. Or a Hellfire missile.

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

    Maybe an open-source drone project for civilians to counter the governments domestic drone spying with their own spy drones? I bet a few civilian drones buzzing over these politician's own homes and offices would get some attention.

    And if the government decides to severely restrict civilian drone use while giving free reign to TLA/LEO drones, maybe my experience with designing military missile & torpedo guidance/targeting systems could find civilian counter-applications.

    Strat

    • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:01PM (#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.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        "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] [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.

        Totally agree, and yes, I was aware of that bill Chucky & friends (fiends?) are pushing that you linked to, but thanks. Proud gun owner and NRA lifetime member here.

        The more people that know the kind of freedom-destroying POS that Schumer is, the better. That's a large part of the reason for my posting that he should be swinging from the end of a rope instead of holding a position of power.

        Death to tyrants. Sic semper tyrannis.

        Strat

  • I would say the same thing to Chuck:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/drones-at-home-raise-1460393.html

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:55AM (#40387035)

    Clearly we need to ban the printing of publicly available plat maps (hint, they predate computers by at least a century!),

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plat [wikipedia.org]

    shut down GIS websites, and remove all info on everything from the Terrorist Intarwebs!

    Plat maps show pipelines, power company and utility easements, and are absolutely fundamental to real estate transactions. Fuck, let's ban realtors too. The keep compromising "MLS listing books" the CommieIslamoNazis could use to kill our freedom.

    Next time you see so-called "gun control" legislation pimped by Schumer, you'll have an insight into how his mind works!

  • Shades of Sean Gorman Batman! Anyone remember the uproar over his dissertation on critical infrastructure based on analysis of publicly available information. Almost 10 years ago.

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/buzz/us-critical-infrastructure/3633190 [abc.net.au]

  • This stuff's been out for years, but it just wasn't freely available to the public -- you had to pay someone to get access to it. (oh ... and those groups sold to governments ... I know my county has access to pictometry.com ... I have no idea what all they use it for, but their website has suggestions [pictometry.com])

    Now that Google et.al. want to make it freely available, so the general public can use it, it's finally getting attention?

  • No democracy that is not a police state can protect every and each piece of public infrastructure.

    Guess the Senator has less problems with the US becoming police state.

  • ...are a threat to infrastructure too. As partisans prove (inexpensively, lest we forget) before the internet, someone who wants to fuck shit up and is willing to die trying can do considerable damage.

    The way to sustain damage and keep fighting is to have enough redundant systems so you can take a hit or many. Trying to secure ALL your systems from ALL attacks is impractical and weakening.

  • WOULD BE impossible? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuckfuts (690967) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:17PM (#40388057)

    With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location.

    It IS impossible to secure every location. Will American policy makers ever address the problem of WHY people want to attack the US? Will the US ever adopt a proactive approach to defense?

    I'm fortunate to live in a country with virtually identical amenities and standard of living compared to the US, yet we don't inspire even a fraction of the fanatical hatred aimed at the US. Why is it, Americans, that people on the other side of the globe, who do not speak your language and have never been to your country, detest you with such fervour they would kill themselves to inflict harm on you?

    I'm not justifying their position; I'm just saying it's a question that bears asking.

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