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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  1. identicon
    dkp, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:24pm

    give me a break

    for one thing the photos are not up to date another thing is the only part that is photographed is the front of the house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Chris, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:36pm

    I hope the AG of NY forces ISPs to block Google Maps, and if they don't they are perverts who support child rape and will be sued accordingly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    DS78, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:39pm


    We should just ban streets all together. A predator may use a street to drive to a child's house. Won't someone think of the children!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Tony, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:43pm

    While we are at it why not just ban walking, driving, seeing, since all those things are used to pray on children. Just think of the Kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    r. decline, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:48pm


    a friend of your father

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    chris (profile), 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:51pm

    predatory children are a serious threat

    a child ate my cat the other day, and i'm pretty sure he found my cat using google maps. fortunately i purchased the google key word "don't eat my cat" so my new cat will be safe from child predators.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:53pm

    GPS = Global Pedophile System

    Just end the insanity. Children enable pedophilia so ban children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    James, 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:56pm


    Surely this is the ONLY way to get rid of the predators who hunt them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:07pm

    New law!

    Sex offenders should be forced to stand in front of their house as Google Street View folks take a picture. =P Seriously, though, I would pretty much guarantee that the Street View photographers were instructed to be sure no person is visible in any photographs. Dogs and cats should watch out, though! They can be victims, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Nick Stamoulis, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:12pm

    Well the press just gave those pervies an idea on how to effectively use Google Maps....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Strange Informatix, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:18pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Thomas, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:27pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Kiba, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:27pm

    New Branch of Medicine

    We need new psychologists who specialized in diagnosing and treating mass technopanic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    sehlat, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:57pm

    A Modest Proposal

    Nuke the advocacy groups from orbit. It's the only way to be sure, and you can probably locate them via Google Maps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:59pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Umm, 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:00pm


    Google maps street views show people in it all the time. There is a website that collects strange pics people find from the google street camera truck. A chick flashing her boobs, a kid chasing another kid with a toy gun...just check out

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:11pm

    Google street view is an invasion of privacy... bad idea

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    How, 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:17pm

    As long as the pictures are taken on public property and not peeking in windows, how exactly is it an invasion of privacy? You do not have any legal privacy while in public. That's why it is illegal to have sex in public, because you can't say "if you look you are invading my privacy".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    shmengie, 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:54pm

    if i can't use google maps to find children to sodomize, the terrorists have won.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Douglas Fletcher, 23 Jul 2008 @ 3:24pm


    What are you doing thinking of children you pervert?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Sos, 23 Jul 2008 @ 3:26pm


    If you want privacy from google streetview, put up a fence

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    E, 23 Jul 2008 @ 3:34pm

    One shot solution

    I think, that registered sex offenders should be required to have their urge removed... Yes I'm saying that all sex offenders should have their "soft tissues" removed entirely... who's with me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Nostromo, 23 Jul 2008 @ 3:40pm

    Re: A Modest Proposal

    Advocacy groups vs. Predator II - Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver as Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. I like the sound of that. It's all for the little chirdren...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Thomas, 23 Jul 2008 @ 4:06pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    celestialwaters, 23 Jul 2008 @ 4:32pm

    Everyone who has used google streetview to look at their house, their old addresses, their parents, siblings, friends, etc. houses should be investigated as potential threats. Everyone with a computer, internet connection and spare time must be considered guilty of crimes against children and other living things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    zcat, 23 Jul 2008 @ 4:39pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Whirler, 23 Jul 2008 @ 5:40pm

    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!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Simple Mind, 23 Jul 2008 @ 5:47pm

    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.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    rosedragon, 23 Jul 2008 @ 7:31pm


    I though lame experts like those advocates only appear in developed countries.. so even hi-tech countries also can have some brainless experts.

    Well, at least we know those claims are un-true. =)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    kevjohn, 24 Jul 2008 @ 8:34am

    wrong target

    We should just ban penises and be done with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2008 @ 8:35am

    most people who push "For The Children" campaigns are the pedophiles themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    DodiaFae, 7 Oct 2008 @ 10:42am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Richard Vanderhurst, 9 May 2009 @ 12:07am

    I think they are just over reacting. just like everybody said, google maps is not updated. Usually the pictures are taken 1 or 2 years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    دردشه, 5 Jul 2009 @ 2:36pm

    We should just ban penises and be done with it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Joe, 23 Aug 2011 @ 9:31am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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