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Google Maps Supports Pool Parties and Taxes

Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith
pool-party.jpg

In one of the more unique uses of Google Maps, governments are using this service to locate pool owners who are not paying their taxes!

During last February’s economic collapse in Greece, the Greek government used Google Maps and Google Earth to find people who had craftily evaded taxes by failing to declare a pool.  When you do a Google Maps or Google Earth view of residential neighborhoods, it is easy to spot pools.  Sometimes, if you look closely, you can even see people enjoying themselves by their pools. 

The Greeks used use satellite pictures by Google Earth to locate country villas, swimming pools and properties. And these tactics have revealed that the suburbs didn't have 324 swimming pools, as was reported, but rather 16,974.  Google Maps was far cheaper than sending out government officials to drive around neighborhoods and cheaper than helicopter fly-overs.

Google Earth-enabled law enforcement has moved from Europe to the US. The town of Riverhead in Long Island, taking a lesson from the Greeks, used Google Earth to track down about 250  pool owners who had failed to obtain the proper permits. Riverhead officials have collected over $75,000 in fines from pool owners who never filled out the required paperwork.

While Google Earth was originally intended to help people find their way around, this is one more example of the Internet being used to both reduce privacy and catch people doing things wrong. Objections from privacy advocates flooded the Long Island town as critics claimed the high-tech method erodes privacy rights and evokes the we're watching you feel of Big Brother. Based on these objections, Riverhead officials have decided to stop using the satellite imaging service. however, Chief Building Inspector Leroy Barnes Jr. dismissed invasion of privacy charges, stating that the town only aims to make sure owners have safe swimming pools, nothing more.

While this use of Google maps is to enforce laws, many others have used Google Earth to locate pools - and take a dip without the owners consent.  Tech savvy UK teens are using Google Earth's aerial shots to create the latest summertime craze – pool crashing. The Register Hardware site confirmed several pool trespassing cases with UK police. 

 

A great example of how technology can be use - for both good and evil.

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