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June 28, 2007

DiNapoli, Gianaris Seek Security Assurances
from Internet Companies

Say Satellite Technology Should Not Compromise Public Safety

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today joined New York Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) to urge companies that offer Internet-based mapping services, such as Google Earth, to follow a three-point plan designed to assure the public that their online services do not compromise federal, state, and city counterterrorism initiatives.

“New York has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make public spaces less vulnerable to terrorist attacks,” DiNapoli said. “The public needs assurances that the tax-funded security improvements we’ve made throughout the city and the state are not being compromised by information technology available on the Internet. Assemblyman Gianaris has been a vocal leader on this issue, and his efforts have helped elevate this important public discussion. The technology is remarkable, but we can’t allow innovation to work against public safety and security.”

Gianaris has called on services such as Google Earth to restrict satellite images of sensitive infrastructure since 2005.

“I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his efforts to protect New York from another terrorist attack. In light of the use of Google Earth in the JFK plot, we must ensure these programs are not used as blueprints for an attack on our country,” Gianaris said. “We should not wait for disaster to strike before taking common sense steps to avoid facilitating an attack.”

After consulting with security experts, including former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey, DiNapoli said he is contacting companies that offer satellite imagery to encourage them to:

  1. Consult with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement agencies, such as the New York Police Department;
  2. Independently assess the security risks posed by information made publicly available via the Internet; and
  3. Adopt policies and practices necessary to ensure a sturdy self-regulatory framework is in place regarding cutting-edge technology and its potential misuse by terrorists.

“We have before us a great opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to safeguard our shared interests of public safety and security,” DiNapoli said. “We’re simply asking these technology companies — not just Google but also Yahoo!, Windows, Mapquest, and others — to take the steps to ensure their services do not undermine public safety efforts. Considering what’s at stake, the request is more than reasonable.”

DiNapoli is sole trustee of the $154.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which has extensive holdings in a number of companies that provide Internet mapping services.



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