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Personalized maps are creepy

The latest technological expansion of Google Earth has a new layer of complexity added to its program that caters to the individual. This program has also pushed Google forward in an almost creepy way.

The updated mapping of the satellites responsible for the three-dimensional rendering on the Google Earth map now allows Google users to create their own personalized maps that focus on their preferences and favorite places.

Most importantly these maps will update in real time, providing current views of selected locations. For instance searching for a theater on the map will show every theater in the area while fading out any extra roads and landmarks.

On top of this feature, pictures that are taken of businesses will also be available to show users the interior of various locations on their personalized maps. New information is updated so quickly that during a test conducted by Google engineers the team was able to witness an eclipse as it happened over Australia.

The eclipse was able to be witnessed because of WebGL, a technology that renders graphics rather than taking photos that get downloaded to a server. As a result, graphics can be more complex and show more details rather than just being a flat image.

Now instead of relying on the Google street view van to drive by every few years, the software will be frequently updated with images from a variety of sources, including both satellite photos and pictures posted online by individual users.

What comes off as creepy with this update is the fact that Google maps save every scrap of information it can about places you frequent or look-up. Search history is not safe from the eyes of Google maps.

To ensure that the bases are covered in this scenario, Google went as far as editing the privacy policy to allow user information to be pulled across products. While the gathered information is relevant to a more accurate map, this also means that Google has access to all of the personal information that users might not want them to have, including personal photos.

This new update is an interesting way to make finding directions a lot easier with the use of the map applications that are already on most smart phones. Plus, if a search is a business that has closer locations to the starting point, then it will be easier to find. However, the concern is with the amount of information that is gathered for this update.

If Google truly wants this update to be accepted by the users there needs to be an option to choose whether or not they would like to use it. Judging from comments posted on the New York Times website, not a lot of people are excited to have their personal information being so easily compiled. Users are very happy with the GPS that Google provides but allowing access to their personal information is where the line is drawn.

This update is going to be slowly released to those who attended the release announcement and anyone who signs up for an invitation through Google maps. Anyone thinking about this service should really think hard if they want Google to have access to their browsing information.

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