Google Earth: Smart government or an invasion of your privacy? - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Google Earth: Smart government or an invasion of your privacy?

UNDATED (WKOW) -- A new controversy about Google Earth, the mapping service that uses
satellite photography to zero in on locations all over the world, including your own backyard. Authorities are now using Google Earth to crack down on building violations and other illegal activities, but is this smart government or an invasion of your privacy?

Using Google Earth, a City Building Inspector in Riverhead, New York, found 250 unpermitted pools and was able to collect 75,000 in fines from homeowners who never filled out the proper paperwork.

In Florida, police looked for the owner of an illegally dumped boat by searching marinas with Google Earth. And in Wisconsin, authorities used Google Earth to find a suspected marijuana field.

What makes privacy advocates nervous is the idea of the government using these tools to look into your back yard.

The Supreme Court has ruled that aerial photography of your backyard is legal and that there is no exception of privacy in areas visible from above.

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