Posted April 3, 2007 8:31 am by with 5 comments

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Trying to distance yourself from suggestions that you are too powerful, or becoming more like Microsoft, is hard to do when a U.S. House Subcommittee sends you a letter claiming you’re attempting to “airbrush history.”

That’s exactly the kind of attention Google would have preferred to have avoided, when it recently came to light that Google Earth had switched back to images of New Orleans, pre-Katrina.

…Google is expected to officially respond to the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology’s subcommittee regarding its reasoning behind the imagery alterations following a concerned letter sent to Google CEO Eric Schmidt from the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Brad Miller. Miller’s communiqué to Schmidt suggested that Google’s outdated imagery was “doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history.”

Google maintains it had no intention of trying to change history and is somewhat perplexed by the controversy.

A somewhat puzzled Google has revealed that it wasn’t its intention to alter historic record, and that the older, pre-Katrina aerial photographs, which were posted in September of 2006, were merely applied to introduce “much higher resolution as part of a regular series of global data enhancements.”…“Given that the changes that affected New Orleans happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments,” said John Hanke, director for Google Earth and Maps on Google’s official blog on Monday. “Make no mistake, this wasn’t any effort on our part to rewrite history.”

Google has entered a new era in its short life – the public perception of its power is far greater than its own.

  • I like what Danny Sullivan had to say about how it was weird that the government would single out Google when the US Geological Survey pictures are still from 2002.

    Shouldn’t the government look at themselves before attacking a publicly traded company?

  • Good point Mark.

  • Although yes this case is a bit foolish (the Google maps photos near me house show construction that took place about 4 years ago…) I do like the general sense of skepticism that does arise in this country when a person becomes a celebrity, a company becomes a success, etc – more people take shots, but the stakes are higher.

    In the beginning, Google had the mantra of “don’t be evil.” But now that they are making piles of money, I think there are plenty of people who are curious about what they are going to do with all of that.

  • I don’t really think it was intentional and they just want an excuse for snapping at Google. They’re getting bigger and bigger every day as a company and not many people like that.

    Besides, if Google says that New Orleans isn’t destroyed, then it isn’t! 😛

  • YES many of google images are old
    i have seen some images with more than 3 years
    but consider this data base doesnt original from google