Friday, June 12, 2009

Google Maps Controversy

Google has been getting itself in occasional trouble a lot with Google Maps.
First there were the nude sunbathers that obsessives found in various back yards. At my lowest points, I've never had the kind of free time that would allow me to search every green space on the planet in search of low-res boobs.
Then came StreetView with its car-mounted cameras zooming around getting photos of men walking in and out of Soho sex shops or chundering up their last few pints outside the pub. With Google around it's coming to the point where you can't have a balcony wank any more without people looking in.
The latest controversy, or controversy as the English would pronounce it, has to do with Japan.
A while back Google allowed some historical maps to be layered over GoogleEarth, normally just a tool for discovering if your parked car is visible from orbit. The Japanese ones could be layered over Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka.
For me it's a fun way of seeing how neighbourhoods have changed and developed, especially to see how green the fields were around my old flats 2 centuries before I moved into them.
But, and there's always a but, old maps were not politically correct. Sections of the old towns were marked off as Etamura, or "village of the filthy masses." In other words, they showed burakumin villages. The burakumin are the Japanese untouchables, and their descendants still face prejudice.
Showing where the old burakumin areas were is a god-send to companies because they can look at an employee's address and see that they might have accidentally hired a burakumin; if they have they can find a reason to fire him. Or they can screen potential hires for the same reasons.
For some reason this has caused a controversy.
Google Earth maps out discrimination against burakumin caste in Japan - Times Online

Old Japanese Maps On Google Earth Unveil Secrets

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: