Ben Snell

17 Jan 2016

In 2014, Google acquired a company called Skybox imaging for $500 million. The startup aimed to provide a different type of map: HD Video of areas on Earth from space. Since the acquisition, the company website has been removed, but a few promo videos of the technology still remain.

Traditionally, humans have lived in a horizontal world, meaning we look, travel, and live left, right, in front and behind. If we wish to be in a private space, we erect walls on our side (the roof is primarily to maintain indoor climates). However, the proliferation of drones and technologies similar to Skybox has undermined privacy from above. Patterns of movement and storage in otherwise concealed locations is now not only visible but able to be video surveilled without notice. The ethics of live satellite mapping is an issue that we are only beginning to address.