Online Satellite and Aerial Images: Issues and Analysis
24 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2007 Last revised: 25 Oct 2012
Online satellite and aerial imagery services such as Google Earth and MSN's Live Local provide access to images that previously were not generally available to the public. This increased availability of satellite and aerial photographs on the Internet raises concerns about privacy rights, public safety, and national security. The industry response to these concerns lacks uniformity and fails to safeguard individual privacy rights and prevent possible threats to public safety. New satellite and aerial imagery services online will likely result in litigation with plaintiffs seeking both equitable and legal remedies. Although plaintiffs might bring actions under a variety of legal theories including nuisance, strict product liability, invasion of privacy by intrusion, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and other miscellaneous actions, existing remedies fall short in providing redress for violations of privacy rights. Increased access to satellite and aerial imagery also raises evidentiary issues. Provided parties lay the proper foundation, courts will likely admit online satellite and aerial images into evidence. Congress and other policy makers should take action to protect individual privacy rights and prevent possible threats to public safety and national security with online satellite and aerial photographs.
Keywords: privacy law, Internet, remote sensing, satellite images, aerial images
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation