Google maps of post-Katrina Gulf Coast: Nothing short of censorship

A story by the Associated Press reports that Google Maps has replaced post-Hurricane Katrina maps of the Gulf Coast region with pre-hurricane maps. All the devastation is seemingly gone, and everything appears to be back to normal.

What gives? Why would Google intentionally post old information that is so wrong for today's environment? Is China not the only place where Google censors its data?

The story reports that Chikai Ohazama, Google manager for satellite imagery, said that the maps now available are the best the company can offer, adding that numerous factors decide what goes into the databases, including "everything from resolution, to quality, to when the actual imagery was acquired."

It seems strange that Google would replace more recent satellite images taken after the hurricane with old images taken prior to the hurricane in late August 2005. Google itself made an announcement after the hurricane struck, telling people that post-hurricane images were available. These images were instrumental for coastal residents anxious to catch a glimpse of the damage to their residential areas.

Now it would seem that Google is saying these post-hurricane images are no longer good enough, so the company is substituting pre-hurricane images. Does anyone else see this as censorship?

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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