CNN and FBI think Google Earth is in real-time

Gawker (taken from Geekosystem) has posted what will likely be today's biggest laugh in the tech world. Live on CNN, anchor Don Lemon was speaking with former FBI Assistant Director, Tom Fuentes, regarding the recent bombing attempt at Times Square in New York City. In their discussion, the two men, who are supposed to be knowledgeable, public figures, basically told the world that they think images from Google Earth are live. Below is a piece of their conversation:

"Lemon: My question to Mr. Fuentes would be: what does that mean? What should we garner from this when this area is even blurred out on Google Earth because of this security alert?

Fuentes: I think they don't want you to see exactly what kind of work they're doing, and also they're searching other parts of the area just to be safe."

Gawker points out that the image was probably just slow to load. Sadly, even one of TV's top news anchors along with one of FBI's ex-finest, couldn't realize that. You can view the CNN footage below.

Google Earth is Google's compilation of detailed still satellite imagery from across the globe. Google uses these images to reconstruct the Earth so that it can be explored with the click of a your mouse, or the tap of your finger. No images are fed in real-time.

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108 Comments

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LOL!! However, why would Google do that at the first place? This is so rediculous! Btw, Bing Maps did not blur anything out, so how'd they explain that now?

Athlonite said,
So now you all know why you can't find the WMD's in Iraq

Yea, those damn mountains are blurred out. It's no wonder why we can't find Osama's beard.

I lost faith in generalized news a while ago. why? Fox News. Anyone else see them b*tch about the nuclear arms summit logo looking like the communist crescent + hammer thing? Geez....

This is why you don't make a comment on something you don't know a damn thing about - just stick with the "I don't Know <insert random anchor man name here>, I just simply don't know <insert name again>"

lol

Just for argument's sake, technically, neither of them ever said that it was in real-time. It's plausible that Google can censor certain areas (just like they censor search results in China) to help prevent their program from being used as a tool for terrorism in times of crisis. With Google Earth, you basically have the layout of the whole city (granted, a not very up to date layout).

I believe Google initially blurred the images so that a clear image of the area is not shown for security reasons, not that it is live or anything. Simply just the fact that no one will be easily able to access very accurate maps of the area until the investigation is over.

And, is this is the case, a lot of the above posters will sure look stupid.

b4zzy said,
I believe Google initially blurred the images so that a clear image of the area is not shown for security reasons, not that it is live or anything. Simply just the fact that no one will be easily able to access very accurate maps of the area until the investigation is over.

And, is this is the case, a lot of the above posters will sure look stupid.

Having fun sitting on your pedestal there? It's called render-time. Understand it

Well, FBI probably have that very same Google Earth in the real time. What he sad is not that stupid I think. It's probably exist but not for you and me my friend )
Maybe one day...

malirene said,
Well, FBI probably have that very same Google Earth in the real time. What he sad is not that stupid I think. It's probably exist but not for you and me my friend )
Maybe one day...

Just think of all the parents watching their kids cars drive around to the girlfriend's house. Or the people spying on their neighbors. Gosh, looking up a nudist beach will be the new porn if you can zoom in enough!

Udedenkz said,
USA, lots of smart people here these days.

Just shows that evolution is working the opposite way. Seems people before us were smarter (in their brain). We just have more things built up from that.

People at the top never seem to have a clue but that being said he doesn't know what he's looking at given that it was over the phone so this is really a CNN fail if anything.

Surely most of the blame here should be on the TV news presenter. Why should Mr. Fuentes doubt what he's being told on a phone call especially if a) Mr. Fuentes is not watching the images on the TV and b) might not be entirely aware what Google Earth is?

excalpius said,
What exactly are they winning? Because from my end, they don't seem to have won a goddamn thing. 8)

a fundamental shift in american policies both domestically and internationally inf favour of security over freedoms isn't exactly what the terrorists wanted? not to mention against the spirit of the founding fathers?
i try to square up post 9/11 america with what i learned in american history class in texas of all places and i find i just can't do it.

not to mention a demonstrated ignorance and continuing negligence on the part of the people put in charge of the overwhelming security effort?

Overall.. kinda of funny

But could this be done to try and prevent the person they were after from getting access to the info?

I'm giving the FBI guy the benefit of the doubt that as he probably was not seeing the image that the news reporters were showing us, he didn't fully realise their stupidity (or at least couldn't call them out with any amount of certainty) and simply tried to answer the question the best he could.

jordan. said,
I'm giving the FBI guy the benefit of the doubt that as he probably was not seeing the image that the news reporters were showing us, he didn't fully realise their stupidity (or at least couldn't call them out with any amount of certainty) and simply tried to answer the question the best he could.
Sorry, but I'm gonna have to disagree. When the question was asked by Lemon, he clearly said he was talking about Google Earth.

Edited by Benjamin Rubenstein, May 4 2010, 3:57pm :

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
Sorry, but I'm gonna have to disagree. When the question was asked by Lemon, he clearly said he was talking about Google Earth.

Yes, I am aware of that. But if someone (who is supposed to be a sensible and well informed indivdual) came up to you and said "Hey Google Earth just censored this area of their maps" without actually showing you anything and without you having looked at the maps yourself, could you say with complete certainty that they are wrong? Would you be so certain that you could call them out on national television? I think in a situation like that, even if you doubt the reporter, the best think you can do is try to answer the question and hope to God that the reporter has got their facts straight.

I was thinking the same thing. The guy was not in studio, he was on the phone, and he was asked a question that seems dumb looking in but was said very matter-of-factly. Would I hearing that question say "Google wouldn't have blurred out the area, maybe their Internet is slow in the newsroom and that particular area isn't loaded yet. I'm sure that's what's going on. Let me call this guy out and make him look like an ass".

I would not. I would answer the question as simply as possible.

jordan. said,
I'm giving the FBI guy the benefit of the doubt that as he probably was not seeing the image that the news reporters were showing us, he didn't fully realise their stupidity (or at least couldn't call them out with any amount of certainty) and simply tried to answer the question the best he could.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAH!!

*loses breath*
*faints*
*wakes up*

Uh, oh, where, what?! Oh. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH

thank god he is retired... No? Because he is retired, right?.
Good God, and this kind of stupid are here to protect the ppl. No wonder why they jail innocent ppl and blame piracy...

maybe im missing something but i just checked and its not "blurred out" now... so either google did do something or the images had not loaded?!?!

exotoxic said,
maybe im missing something but i just checked and its not "blurred out" now... so either google did do something or the images had not loaded?!?!

The images simply didn't load at that moment for some reason. It happens sometimes.

They just did a video of the googling and kept using it. The FBI guy wasn't even there, so he was probably on the phone and couldn't see what the idjit anchorman was talking about, but that's no excuse for the entire CNN team being so utterly computer illiterate.

macf13nd said,

double past tense fail.

???

the article

...Live on CNN, anchor Don Lemon was speaking with former FBI Assistant Director, Tom Fuentes...

Or is the article wrong too?

LaserWraith said,

???
Or is the article wrong too?

If someone WAS the former FBI Assistant Director, that means they no longer are the former FBI Assistant Director, or in other words that they were possibly re-hired? That is not the case, so it is a double past tense fail. On the other hand, when the anchor WAS speaking with the former whatever it means that the anchor was speaking with him at some point in time, but no longer is speaking with him as opposed to the person no longer being the former whatever.

thornz0 said,
The photo over my house is at least 4 years old...

no, your house is just 4 yrs old...the images are real-time!

TonyLock said,
No wonder they think 9/11 wasn't an inside job.

+1 and allot of LOLs - XD

Edited by Valvaris, May 4 2010, 2:58pm :

HOWEVER... Does this not suggest that they are used to working in an environment where they have access to similar tools that ARE real-time?

njlouch said,
HOWEVER... Does this not suggest that they are used to working in an environment where they have access to similar tools that ARE real-time?
I agree, this must be the reason for the FBI's comment.

njlouch said,
HOWEVER... Does this not suggest that they are used to working in an environment where they have access to similar tools that ARE real-time?

Oh sure! There are cameras everywhere and all these "agencies" have free access to all the images recored and the online feeding too.
As usual the problem is not the information data but the ability to link together different pieces of intelligence and then analyze it.

Nicholas-c said,
My god. I just died a little inside :l

hahaha. on the other hand, i just pee'd a little as i watched that video! =>