Two news stories appeared prominently on our news feeds today that exposed the pros and cons of today's internet.
Google Earth labeled an aid to terrorists : "An Indian Court has been called to ban Google Earth amid suggestions the online satellite imaging was used to help plan the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last month." and Vandal who trashed pub caught by Facebook : "A teenage vandal was forced to hand himself in to police after pictures of him trashing a pub were posted on Facebook by the landlord."
The former might seem alarmist but the Indian authorites are certainly not the first to express concern over such useful information. Earlier this year the US authorities asked Google to remove Street View mapping of areas around government facilities. It is without doubt a legitimate concern but rolling back access to things like Google Maps would be the thin end of a wedge that would lead to everything from GPS sat-nav to oridinary street maps being banned. The latter story comes hot on the heels of another Facebook detective based news item and shows how people have such far reaching broadcast medium at broadcast their disposal can give people a voice they didn't have previously. How they use these powerful tools, however, is something that cannot be legislated for.
These stories, whilst poles apart in terms of gravitas, show how openly available information and publicly available information broadcast media can open up a myriad of opportunites and pitfalls. CCTV and Satelite imagery are nothing new but the fact that they are now available to anyone, anytime virtually anywhere and can be distributed at will means that the old maxim "Informaiton is king" is never truer and as access and availibility increase more and more people are empowered by. Controlling that power, is by the very nature of the internet, impossible.
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