Are Google Maps good or evil?

Google Maps helps bad people find good people and vice versa. You'll have to decide whether to feel more or less secure.

Pop quiz: do you feel more or less secure with the arrival of Google Maps and other online mapping services?

News.com Poll

Are Google Maps scary?
Google Maps can show child predators where children play--but also help honest citizens find felons. How do online maps make you feel?

More secure
Less secure
Neither
Both



View results

I ran into that question when I got two very different news releases Monday. One argued that Google Maps helps awful people find you, but the other argued Google Maps helps you find awful people.

The first was from an outfit called Stop Child Predators, which launched a campaign to tell parents about the potential ills of Google Maps' Street View, which shows driver's-eye views of countless neighborhoods.

"This technology shows anyone in the world our communities, and exposes not only the routes from the bus stops to homes, but our children, without ever stepping foot in our neighborhoods," said Stacie Rumenap, the executive director of Stop Child Predators, in a statement.

On the other side was the announcement of CriminalSearches.com, a new service from PeopleFinders.com that said it shows where "sex offenders...thieves, violent offenders, murderers, or con artists" live in your neighborhood. The site shows people icons on a Google map; clicking an icon shows a person's photo, description, address, and criminal history.

"In a society where personal safety has become an important concern, CriminalSearches.com provides useful information that will help families feel secure in their neighborhoods and personal lives," PeopleFinders.com said, with President Bryce Lane adding, "We created CriminalSearches.com to help consumers make the most educated decisions about the people they let into their personal lives and the lives of their loved ones."

So what's the verdict? Do online maps creep you out? Or do you feel safer because they enable you to keep an eye out for threats?

Vote in the poll, and share your thoughts in the feedback section below.

PeopleFinders.com said its CriminalSearches.com site lets you scope neighborhoods for people with a criminal history.
PeopleFinders.com said its CriminalSearches.com site lets you scope neighborhoods for people with a criminal history. CriminalSearches.com

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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