November 19, 2013
Google Maps Vows To Remove Image Of Murdered Boy
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A San Francisco Bay Area father discovered the scene of the police investigation of his murdered son had been captured in the satellite imagery on Google Maps. After requesting the image be removed, the search giant responded, saying it will replace the Google Maps image.The image appears to show the scene of a police investigation, USA Today reports.
"The image shows what appears to be a body on the ground near the rail line with several other people, presumably investigators, and what looks like a police car nearby. It was visible on Google's website Monday and the company has said it will remain so for a little more than a week," the USA Today article said.
Jose Barrera of Richmond, California discovered the image last week and reached out to KTVU-TV in Oakland, CNN reports. Barrera's son Kevin was shot and killed at the age of 14 in 2009. Police discovered his body near a railroad track in Richmond on August 15. The image was viewed when Barrera looked up an address near the scene.
"When I see this image, that's still like that happened yesterday," Barrera told the news station Sunday, according to the Associated Press. "And that brings me back a lot of memories."
Google has resolved to replace the image after reviewing options.
"Since the media first contacted us about the image, we've been looking at different technical solutions," Google Maps Vice President Brian McClendon said, in a statement on Monday. "Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case. We believe we can update this in eight days, and we've spoken to the family to let them know we're working hard on the update."
Google updates satellite images on a routine basis, with most images between one to three years old. Much of the process is automated, and it is not possible for Google to subject every image to human review before it becomes live.
It is not unusual for people to find images that are suspect or appear to be suspect on Google Maps satellite imagery and Street View. In April, rumors surfaced that the satellite imagery captured attempts to dispose of a body on a dock. The image was later debunked as a trail of water left behind from a dog that had ran onto the dock after being in the water..
Street View images often capture unintended images and sometimes staged images by people who know Google will send its Street View cameras around on a particular day. Some of these images are captured on the site urlesque.com.
The scene identified by Jose Barrera is not to be taken lightly. While it was not officially confirmed as the crime scene investigation of Kevin Barrera's murder, it is serious enough for Google to take down the image and replace it with another available image.
Google typically declines such requests for images to be taken down. In this case, the company will comply as soon as it is able. Barrera had planned to make a formal request with Google after he initially spoke to local media. He said he had also planned to lobby state lawmakers for help in removing the image if that became necessary.