Want an up close view of the Eiffel Tower but can't make it to Paris anytime soon? Google Maps is optimal for virtual sightseeing. But not every landmark is visible on the site — some images are blurred and distorted by countries for security reasons.
Blurred is the Royal Palace in the Netherlands and even a power plant on Cornell University's campus in Ithaca, New York.
“The satellite and aerial imagery in Google Earth and Google Maps is sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources,” Google spokesperson Deanna Yick tells Mashable. “These third-party providers are required to follow the law of the countries in which they operate, so some of them may blur images and then supply us with those images.”
When Google Maps first launched, images of the White House and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC were blurred. They have since been restored.
Yick said Google is constantly updating the imagery as a part of an effort to create the most graphically-rich and useful maps possible.
“We strive to publish the best data possible, and take into account many elements when determining which imagery is optimal, such as imagery date, resolution and clarity,” Yick said. “We receive updated information from our data providers from time to time, and if those updates improve the imagery of the area based on all of those quality elements, we may elect to publish that updated imagery even if the provider has blurred certain regions of the image.”
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