Advocacy Group Claims Google Maps Is A Tool Of Child Predators

from the but-think-of-the-children! dept

We’ve been talking about the popularity of “technopanics,” where the press (often spurred on by “advocacy” groups) push out a “but think of the children” campaign to worry about how child predators are using this or that kind of technology — when the reality is that there is often little to no evidence that this is actually happening or a serious threat. Studies eventually show that the press blew the “threat” way out of proportion, but by then it’s too late. The public already believes that there’s a huge threat. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some folks who have used these sites to prey on children — or that people shouldn’t be aware that it’s a risk. But most kids seem to have no problem ignoring or brushing off the extremely rare solicitations they might get — usually because their parents or educators taught them to be cautious around random strangers.

So, with studies finally showing the lack of a threat on social networks, it seems that technopanic advocates have had to move on to things like gaming consoles. The latest is even more ridiculous. Apparently an advocacy group is trying to warn people about the supposed dangers of Google’s Street View technology. Apparently, they’re worried that child predators will use the tech to scope out where children live, because Google Street View might possibly maybe have caught kids playing outside. Is there any evidence that this has actually happened? Nope. Is there any reason to think that this makes sense for a child predator as compared to actually getting in a car and driving around and seeing what’s happening out in broad daylight? Nope. It’s just fear, fear, fear!

Amusingly, I found this story from Stephen Shankland at, who points out that the same day that advocacy group put out its fearmongering press release, another group was announcing how you can use its new service, built on Google Maps, to see if any registered sex offenders live near you. So, while we have one group warning about how Google Maps can be used for evil, another group is pointing out how it can be used to see if there are any threats in the neighborhood.

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Comments on “Advocacy Group Claims Google Maps Is A Tool Of Child Predators”

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Thomas (profile) says:

Re: Chris' post

I hope you are being sarcastic. Google maps are helpful in many useful ways, such as finding your way to a legitimate business or a friend’s house. Get real, you can’t ban everything in the world. Do you have evidence that Google maps (the ones that show street view) show any individual people (adults or children)? google doesn’t want people in the photos.

Joe says:

Re: Streets

Stupid is as stupid does! I have actual reason to believe, that in my area where 40 houses were broken into in broad daylight, in one week, that google maps street view was atcualy used to case out these places. The police are not sure if they are all related. You better hope they are. If not, you have a bigger problem and a harder one to solve. So hey, worry about sex offenders when there are other crimes more suited for google street view. Yup, i feel much safer now. Think about who would really benifit from driving down your road completely unseen and undetected. A sexual preditor is better suited in real time and of chance oportunity. Not in a virtual world.

Strange Informatix says:

Do you know?

Do you know that:
* AQ used google maps to locate WTC
* Saddam used google search to construct nucular weapons
* Osama uses froogle to buy his underpants
* Dr Evil use Google Scholar to find his favorite research papers
* Kim Il Jong uses gmail

Yes! Google is evil! US&A would be a very safe without google!

Anonymous Coward says:

Because it’s far easier to systematically search every single photo on google maps, find the ones with children in, check the date of the photo, then check up on the house to make sure that family hasn’t moved out, than it is to get in a car and drive around. Obviously.

We’re all pointing out how silly it is to believe that pedophiles could even waste their time doing this, but what’s sticking in my mind is the kind of mental state that comes up with this idea in the first place. It’s either someone who seems to think that google maps works via some kind of live satelite feed, or it’s someone with an anti-technology agenda. That, or someone completely and totally insane.

Either way, shouldn’t someone be complaining to some authority or other over this? Isn’t this a form of libel, or at the very least, an attempt to incite panic or something?

DodiaFae (user link) says:

Re: One shot solution

If you’re talking “castration”, it doesn’t work. They will find other ways to violate children. If you’re talking “lobotomy”, hell yeah, I’m with you.

I have a website that was created to spread awareness, as well as advocating child safety. I’m still researching this topic, but from what I know of google maps, I’m not convinced that this will give predators any information that they wouldn’t get by following a child. They can’t get a child’s address from google maps, or even google. Hell, I just typed in my address, and google maps marked a spot 3 blocks and 2 streets away… not even on my street, let alone my house. Google maps kind of sucks, and, for the moment at lest, I’m not too worried. Not unless I come across some info to prove otherwise.

BTW, not all advocacy groups are psychotic.

Thomas (profile) says:

Not likely to happen

Are google’s photos live? I think not. Even if you see a kid at x address, how could you possibly go to that address and expect to find the kid? Even if he/she is going into/coming out of the house, what are the odds of finding again? I can’t really see a perv trying something so unrealistic; it would make more sense to simply drive around at random.

And how would a perv know that it was a real kid? There’d be nothing to stop the police from using undercover agents and then grabbing the perv when he/she gets out of the car.

But what in the world would the odds be? If you are in any area, simply driving around would show more than downloading page after page from google. It’s hardly live feed.

zcat (profile) says:

I mentioned this before, but...

A while back, someone at the ministry of education was ‘very concerned’ that I had my kids pictures on my website. Because there are paedophiles out there!

The same day, the local free paper had pictures of three local children about the same age, helping to pick up rubbish in a nearby gully. Full names included.

Since then I’ve been checking whenever I remember to, and in the last year there has always been at least one photo of a school-aged child within the first three pages, always with their full name and almost always the name of the school or some club or social group they attend.

But because it’s on the web, it’s just so much more of a threat. Weird! Never mind that the local free paper is _also_ available on the web!

Whirler says:

Wrong people in the wrong places

Oh jeeze, give me a break. Not another panic driven by limp wristed; inept; disgraceful butt plugs… the people behind these technopanics are totally clueless when it comes to understanding any technology that doesn’t concern wiping their own butts. C’mon morons, it’s not like you need a physics degree or one in computer engineering to know what the actual service does. Just give it a try. Don’t be stupid and do the easiest thing, nothing and just follow suit behind everyone one else.

“By ignorance and ignorance alone, man must be freed!”

Simple Mind says:

Don't be a Tool

One can use a hammer to build a house or to kill someone. Here is a clue, if you still don’t get it, the tool is never the one creating the problem. If you think it is then you need to realize that you are just stupid and back off. (The Catch22 is that stupid people are generally too stupid to realize that they are idiots. Thus they attempt to “solve” our problems and just end up making a mess. The worst such offenders find their way to the upper echelons of govt.)

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