Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is the internet giant treading on thin lines?

Google has developed such wonderful services that no one can deny their greatness. Google Earth is almost like gaining access to a top satellite service without owning one. Its technology and integration is first class and awesome. As a consumer, I definitely enjoyed every part of it.

But... is Google treading on dangerous lines? In a recent report by Times Online, Google Earth seems to have revealed photos that has unraveled the secret history of US base in Pakistan. These photos have since been removed with request by several governments. But it was however obtained by Pakistan's English publication before that was possible. And of course, that means internationally, the photo has been officially exposed.

Last year, Google Earth also ran into a controversy when Pentagon requests they remove pictures showing important military bases in USA. Last week, there was also a report on a man's journey to hunt down the treasure of a Spanish sunken ship when he observed an abnormal landscaping with an outline looking like a shoe-print. The case has since been brought to court to review a possible legal excavation of the site.

Will the Google Earth service be brought down due to the many controversies and sensitivity? Will there be censorship of information and protection of interest to control searches and results? Will Google lead to the end of democracy on the Internet?

The Internet is such a wonderful haven because of its transparency and limitless possibilities. Almost anything and everything is available and an abundance of information ready at disposal. However, there is always both sides of the coin to argue. If global safety is at threat, should certain information be censored and deleted? Should the conversations of netizens be monitored and actions taken when something wrong is being said that may cause a social up rise? To what extent will this potential censorship takes place?

Recently in New Zealand, there is a heated discussion over the Guilt Upon Accusation Law, which led to an "Internet Black Out" movement. It is a bill that allows for Internet disconnection without a trial on accusations of copyright infringements. The bill will take effect on 28 Feb 2009 if the National Party takes no further action. Right or wrong? Well, it depends on which side you want to contest. Although I don't agree to the infringement of privacy but infringement of copyrights does not seem right either. Each country has it's own law and it's hard for anyone else to say anything about it. But I definitely don't think the statement that says, "Without Trial" is fair.

Should we or should we not? Perhaps one day it will evolve to an era where there will be a cyber-government who governs the global netizenship. Perhaps cyberspace may be even accepted as part of United Nations? Who knows?

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