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.

Filed Under: google maps, google street view, technopanic, think of the children

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  1. identicon
    TheDock22, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:34pm

    This doesn't make any sense

    Wouldn't the predators STILL have access to this information by driving by? What does Google Maps do other than make it a little easy to get directions? Hopefully no proposed nanny laws come from this insane advocates group.

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