Apple swore it would equal or exceed Google's newly announced 3-D mapping and offline access with its own 3-D maps created using data from planes and helicopters flying over U.S. cities even as speakers described the plan at the WWDC June 11.
Google planned to match Apple aircraft for aircraft, prompting fears of aerial photography battles in the skies over the U.S. and mass invasions of privacy as search vendors seeking an edge got pictures of Aunt Janie in the bath through the garden window instead.
"You won't be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures," according to quotes in the Daily Mail from civil-rights activist Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch.
Apple said it had created a database with more than 100 million business listings that would also be available in its Maps app, which will be distributed on everything that runs iOS 6.
Competition is great, especially for the consumer, but both companies need to commit to serious steps to safeguard the privacy of people their mapping efforts photograph accidentally, according to Sen. Schumer's letter yesterday.
Both need to agree to blur out photos of individuals in the mapping pics, give property owners the chance to opt out of the process – deleting their property from the database – and cooperate with both local police and the Dept. of Homeland Security to make sure strategically sensitive facilities aren't photographed or located so closely terrorists could use satnav software to plan detailed real-world attacks, he wrote.
"Barbequing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn’t be a public event," Schumer's letter read. "By taking detailed pictures of individuals in intimate locations such as around a pool, or in their backyard, or even through their windows, these programs have the potential to put private images on public display. We need to hit the pause button here and figure out what is happening and how we can best protect peoples’ privacy, without unduly impeding technological advancement."