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Germany

After Privacy Hysteria, Germans Learn To Love Google’s All-Seeing Street View

It’s been a year since Google Street View became available in Germany – and very little of the negative stir that greeted its initial arrival has survived. The service has come to be seen as a useful tool, and some former opponents even want their homes i

An infamous
An infamous
Johannes Kuhn

MUNICH -- The Silicon Valley "spy" opened shop in Germany a year ago to a firestorm of controversy. It was last November when Google launched its Panaroma Street View service of 20 German cities, from Leipzig to Stuttgart. In the lead up, the U.S. company's project not only met with mistrust but sometimes hysterical debates that went on for months, touching on everything from who had rights to building facades to how high fencing needed to be to ensure privacy.

Altogether, the questions and concerns amounted to an attempt by Germans to work out a definition of the private sphere in the digital age. The result of that debate was that 245,000 people opposed having their home publically on view, and substantial portions of some well-to-do areas are simply screened out of the German version of Street View.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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