Google Earth and Google Street View, two popular applications offered by Google that enable users to view detailed satellite images of buildings or street-level panoramas of major roads and neighborhoods, have recently engendered controversy.  In the United States, legislators in California and Texas have introduced bills directed at Google Earth and other similar applications.  The proposed California bill prohibits operators of commercial Internet websites that make a “virtual globe browser available to members of the public” from providing “aerial or satellite photographs or imagery” of schools, religious facilities or government buildings, unless those images have been blurred.  Violators could be fined at least $250,000 and natural persons who knowingly violate the provisions could face imprisonment between one to three years.  The proposed Texas bill prohibits any person from publishing on the Internet “an image capable of zooming into greater detail than that of an aerial photograph taken without a magnifying lens 300 feet or higher of private property not visible from the public right-of-way,” and classifies the offense as a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $2,000 or 180 days in prison.


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