Frank Taylor’s Google Earth Blog had an interesting post this morning about updated imagery for Washington D. C., what with the inauguration upon us and all. Frank’s focus was on the realistic 3D imagery now available for the Capitol Building and other locations. I was more interested in what he had discovered about censorship of D. C. locations.
Probably one of the most telling aspects of the Bush administration was how it handled Google Earth. When GE first came out most sensitive locations in DC were pixelated – Capitol Building, White House, etc. First the Capitol, then the White House gained clarity. Granted, the images were older ones that didn’t reveal key details, but you could see them. The one remaining site was the National Observatory, home of Dick Cheney. It remained completely pixelated out, as if to say, “Here there be dragons.”
Frank showed a cool side-by-side comparison with the new update imagery of the National Observatory…
The image is still an old one. It does reveal sensitive details about the location, but it doesn’t smack of authoritarian censorship as did the previous image. Whether this was the Bush Administration’s doings or Google’s doesn’t really matter. The appearance is there, and the fact that the images change right before Obama takes office is no coincidence.
Political statements aside, I’m just glad that one less portion of the globe is blurred in Google Earth. Now if they could do something about that section near Belton…
One thought on “Google Earth Censorship for DC”
I looked at the imagery for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area (south beltway). It was pretty badly butchered up. Some ghosts of older roads lying on top of new ones (partucularly at the US 1 interchange with the beltway), and a total botching of the bridge area. At least Nationals Stadium is finally on the Anacostia and looking good.