Spies in the sky: First Google, now Apple?

Spies in the sky: First Google, now Apple?

Summary: According to reports, Apple has secured private aerial vehicles to take military-accurate 3D maps.


According to reports, Apple has secured private aerial vehicles to take military-accurate 3D maps -- that may be powerful enough to take footage through skylights and windows.

The technology is rumored to be able to scan objects down to four inches wide, and the military-grade equipment may be able to capture not just aerial views of cities, but probe further into the domestic arrangements of the general public.

The technology giant expected to soon announce new mapping technology to rival Google Maps, following Apple's acquisition of Swedish C3 Technologies -- an advanced 3D mapping business -- last year.

It may be that the procurement of the aerial force will allow iPhone and iPad users to scan images that have previously been restricted to intelligence personnel, as the mapping technology is reported to be up to military standard -- and C3 Technologies's equipment has already been tested in cities across the world, including London.

Director of the Big Brother Watch privacy campaign group Nick Pickles told the Sunday Times that increased use of this technology would "take us over the garden fence".

"You won't be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures."

Apple isn't the only company exploring 3D mapping technology. Last week, Google admitted to testing similar technology, deploying a fleet of small airplanes equipped to capture three-dimensional images of several cities in the United States.

Google plans to release the first of their 3D maps by the end of 2012, and according to Reuters, the first 'cityscape' will be launched within weeks.


Topic: Apple

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  • Hmmm.

    Everyone knows what C3 did. It was on their website. If Apple are launching a 3d mapping product today then a huge chunk of this must have been done already.

    Sounds like the usual UK press sniping at all things Apple.
  • .

    1st the government
    2nd bing
    3rd google
    4th apple

    or something like that.
    • almost right

      1st the military
      2nd through 15th government contractors you never heard of
      16th through 29th private companies you never heard of
      then the rest of your list kicks in.

      If you are shocked that Google and Apple have cameras zooming in on you, you would be horrified about the data that private corporations check on you. the credit reporting agencies know more about you than even Google. There are companies that have a record of every prescription filled in the United States.

      Quite frankly, I am nonplussed about Google or Bing Maps.
      Your Non Advocate
      • Agreed

        Most City offices have incredible aerial photos. They know where every tree and structure is. Been that way for a while now.
  • we can't trust apple

    apple has a very bad track record of respecting user's privacy.
    more reasons to switch to google!
    The Linux Geek
    • Switch to Google for Privacy?

      Considering it's Google's core business to extract as much information out of their end users as possible to further develop their advertising platform, how's Google better at respecting privacy?

      Did make me laugh though...
    • So it WASN'T Google who

      was mapping out the unsecured wifi access pints during [i]it's[/i] surveys while mapping? Really?
    • um ....

      You forgot the "/s" for sarcasm. Yes, you did.
  • It is a fair game to take photos on public streets

    Unless a special technology is used to penetrate privacy protections, anything that can be recorded from a public place should be a fair game.
    • That will be determined by the courts.

      It is true that there is no expectation of privacy on a public street. Looking "over the fence" violates that in us courts. Eg Jennifer Aniston http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,624291,00.html suit had to do the photos of her person. Another example is Barbar Streisand http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/streisand-privacy-suit-gets-bounced photo of her house. We shall see.
      • Google is not looking for you specifically.

        Are you saying people in airplanes aren't allowed to look down? Just because you have a fence doesn't mean you have privacy. If you're doing something you don't want anyone to see, don't do it outside.

        The 'expectation of privacy' is as misunderstood as the right to free speech. Just because you don't want someone to look at you does not mean you have a right to not be looked at.
      • Grey area

        You can look down, but can you take an ultra-high resolution "military grade" photograph? That is a grey area.

        Personally, I'd rather live an in America where you [i]can't[/i]. But that is just my opinion.
        x I'm tc
      • You looking at me?

        I'm not saying it's good, or that it's right. It just is. The people next door can see in my yard looking out the 2nd. story windows. I don't thing they should be prosecuted for it. You can't make it illegal for people to look at you when you're outside.

        I'm just saying if people want privacy, they already have it. Go in the house.
    • Don't see

      I would like to thank Google for blurring out the license plates in Street View. I would also like to express amazement that this is even possible, because I'm sure they did not hire every single person in China to Photoshop the license plates. They must have software that knows how to recognize a car, and then locate the license plate, and then blur it out. Pretty cool.
      Robert Hahn
      • Faces as well

        They also do that with the faces of people captured in the photos.
  • The "Latest"

    The "latest" military standard is always classified. If Apple technology is now the latest military standard that is publicly known, then they are some <classified> number of years behind the real "latest".

    Nevertheless, I'm not in favor of peeping Toms or even Uncle Sams.
    • Very true

      The military isn't going to give away any advantage they have to the unfriendly nations in the rest of the world.
      William Farrel
      • "The Don is slippin' ..."

        That "advantage" window has been closing rapidly since Pakistan went nuclear. Nixon couldn't stop them, and he was as big a douche as will ever sit as POTUS.