The latest news surrounding Facebook and their egregious lack of privacy will have you on your toes.
CNBC reported that social media giant Facebook has now figured out how to identify where millions of people live in 23 countries, to a degree of accuracy of 15 feet. The company has developed a data map of the Earth’s population by using government census numbers with the information gleaned from satellites.
Facebook’s mapping technology can hone in on any structures, in any country, to a resolution of five meters. The purpose of the technology is to understand the distribution of people all over the planet. This will help the company figure out what types of internet services could be used to serve consumers who have limited internet access. By using this technology, the company can provide internet service that is based on land, air, or in space.
At the Space Technology and Investment Forum, Janna Lewis, Facebook’s head of strategic innovation partnerships and sourcing said that the technology would help more people gain access to the internet. “Satellites are exciting for us. Our data showed the best way to connect cities is an internet in the sky,” she said. “We’re trying to connect people from the stratosphere and from space.”
Lewis is a former intellectual property attorney who brings years of experience in international aerospace law. Facebook hired her about one year ago. Her role is to collaborate with the aerospace industry to develop a multifaceted network that can serve the entire planet. “We see these as a viable option for serving these populations that are unconnected or under-connected,” she also said.
Facebook isn’t the only company looking to outer space to seek business opportunities. According to Edward Swallow, senior vice president for civil and commercial systems for the Aerospace Corporation, said, “All this satellite data is coming from space, so people are trying to figure out what the business opportunities are.”
Now that it has become cheaper to collect data via satellite, other companies are getting into the game. Google recently sold its satellite-imaging business because they realized they could gain access to data without using their own satellites. Aerospace companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have significantly decreased the cost of launching satellites into Earth’s orbit. Because of the lowered costs and the ease of data collection, Facebook and Google can more easily gain the information they need.
These developments have inspired us to commercialize space. Steve Butow, the West Coast military lead for the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX), indicated that about half of all satellites in orbit were launched for commercial purposes. He also said that the outcome of these investments will probably become a “space-based broadband data network” that will provide the foundation for a “new space economy.”
Facebook can tell where you are within 15 feet. Are you concerned they know too much about you?
Of course, these new developments seem beneficial for people who do not have adequate access to the internet, but reality could become something more nefarious. Companies like Google and Facebook have grown more influential recently, and their ability to track individuals should be alarming to those who value freedom and privacy.
While the government is not allowed to create technology that can be used to monitor American citizens, it is possible that they could hire companies to collect the data for them. This is still a legal grey area and Americans should pay close attention to this new trend.