Archive for April, 2006

Indian concerns about Google Earth

April 18, 2006

Coolz0r is quite opinionated about requests by India, South Korea and a few other countries for Google to censor sensitive information on Google Maps and Google Earth. Coolz0r is blogging on the very popular blog Inside Google, while the original blog-owner Nathan is on vacation.

India and a few other countries are "alarmed at the ease with which Google Earth enables any user to quickly get a satellite photo of just about any area on the planet." Here's what Coolz0r has to say on Why Terrorists Love Google:

First of all, Google isn’t alone. There are other search engines that offer a similar service. Xxxxx, xxx xxxx [removed upon kind request] It’s not that you don’t have libraries with books that have this footage too… It’s not that you have anything to hide, or is it? If any terrorist got briefed sufficiently enough, he would be getting military information from some corrupt high-placed officer, just like they get arms from those same sources.

Agreed! A determined terrorist can indeed find the maps and satellite imagery he needs, from non-Google, non-search engine, non-freely-available-on-the-Internet sources. However, the question is not about whether or not a terrorist can get this information. The question is about the ease with which the terrorist can access this information and the speed with which he can use this information.

If a terrorist could kill 100 people if there were no satellite images on the Internet, but if Google Maps enables him to kill 101 people – just one extra person – then, we should give more serious thought to this issue. Not just think of it from the freedom of information perspective. If you are a friend, relative, parent, partner or child of that one extra person, how would you feel?

If it takes 90 days for a terrorist to gather all the data and plan a terrorist strike in the absence of satellite images on the Internet, but if Google Earth makes it possible for her/him to plan the strike in 30 days or even 60 days, then this issue needs more thought.

Obviously, this issue is quite not so black and white. While all of us hippies and freedom lovers would love for all information to be freely available, displayed and shared, the rest of the world is not quite so loving. There are people who are capable of using our love of freedom against us, to harm our interests.

Moreover, India, South Korea and other countries are not asking for general information about your residential neighborhoods, city streets and driving directions to be censored. They are asking for "sensitive" locations, such as, military installations to be protected. Incidentally, Google does censor information about the White House. I also remember reading somewhere that Google extends a similar courtesy to Israel's defence facilities. Why not the same for India and other countries?

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Go Indian girls!

April 7, 2006

Ethnic Indian girls (native-born or otherwise) stand out among the winners of the 2006 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. At least, FOUR names in the list of 19 winners of the $10,000 per person scholarship are very Indian. Among the 28 names of "highly qualified finalists" who were each awarded $1000, SIX are obviously Indian names. That is, over 20% – one in five – girls are Indians in both lists!

From the Official Google Blog on This year's Anita Borg Scholarship winners (Indian names have been bolded by Right Indian):

We're awarding 19 $10,000 scholarships to these outstanding young women — graduate and undergraduate students who are completing degrees in computer science and related fields — with our congratulations:

  • Brianna Bethel, University of Colorado – Boulder
  • G. Ayorkor Mills – Tettey, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Gillian Rachael Hayes, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Himabindu Pucha, Purdue University
  • Karen Fullam, University of Texas at Austin
  • Kristen Walcott, University of Virginia
  • Kristina Chodorow, New York University
  • Laura Rouse, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Marta Magdalena Luczynska, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Megan Olsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Michele Banko, University of Washington
  • Neven Abou Gazala, University of Pittsburgh
  • Parisa Michelle Tabriz, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Rebecca Nancy Nesson, Harvard University
  • Shana Kay Watters, University of Minnesota
  • Sharmishtaa Seshamani, Johns Hopkins University
  • Soumi Sinha, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Tracy Westeyn, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Vinithra Varadharajan, Carnegie Mellon University

And we also recognize these 28 highly qualified finalists, who will receive $1,000 awards from us:

  • Alicia Avelon Permell, Michigan Tech University
  • Anagha Mudigonda, Polytechnic University New York
  • Anna Tikhonova, University of California, Davis
  • Annie (Hsin-Wen) Liu, University of Washington
  • Ashima Kapur, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cindy Rubio Gonzalez, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Delphine Nain, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Divya Arora, Princeton University
  • Emily Grace Christiansen, University of Minnesota-Morris
  • Emily Shen, Stanford University
  • Erika Chin, University of Virginia
  • Eva Mok, University of California, Berkeley
  • Evelyn Mintarno, Stanford University
  • Gina Upperman, Rice University
  • Hayley Nicole Iben, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jiayue He, Princeton University
  • Jing Chen, University of Pennsylvania
  • Laureen Lam, San Jose State University
  • Lingyun Zhang, University of California, San Diego
  • Lu Xiao, Pennsylvania State University
  • Meeta Sharma Gupta, Harvard University
  • Moushumi Sharmin, Marquette University
  • Neha Rungta, Brigham Young University
  • Rachel Weinstein, Stanford University
  • Sunny Consolvo, University of Washington
  • Tanya Lee Ann Crenshaw, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Valerie Hajdik, Texas A&M University
  • Xiaonan Zhao, Northwestern University

Also, check out the number of names in that list which seem to be Asian (including Indian). The future of American industry is definitely in the hands of ethnic Asians.