French newspaper Le Figaro has an article on censorship in Google Earth, Maps and NASA World Wind. Despite the slightly breathless title (in English, “Censorship scrambles maps on Google Earth”), the article is quite balanced and accurate, mentioning that updates to Google Earth’s data have replaced censored images with uncensored images (with the exception of the Vice President’s residence.)
One thing it points out, and which I hadn’t noticed before, is that the earliest, censored imagery of the White House (still visible on Google Maps today) didn’t just replace the roof of the White House with beige rectangles — somebody went and photoshopped the pool and the Rose Garden with trees as well. Look:
Now isn’t that special? To me, there is a big difference, in a democracy, between clearly marking an area as censored (for whatever dubious security reason) and actively falsifying information. The latter action is tantamount to lying to one’s own citizens, and is not qualitatively different to KGB efforts to erase out-of-favour figures in photos. If the pool is crucial to national defence, by all means pixelate it, if you really have to. But pretending that the president does not have a pool, and not realizing the difference between censorship and falsification, is creepy.