If you live in Riverhead and have a backyard pool that doesn’t have a permit, beware: The town is using a new tool to find you without ever setting foot on your property.
In a move other Long Island towns may copy but privacy advocates say raises “Big Brother” concerns, Riverhead has used the satellite image service Google Earth in the last nine months to snag about 250 homeowners who have swimming pools but no required permits.
Lee Tien, an attorney with the San Francisco -based Electronic Frontier Foundation , a digital-rights advocacy group, said the town’s use of Google Earth is “probably” legal because the images aren’t “particularly revealing of intimate activities” and officials used them to answer a simple yes or no question: Pool or no pool?
Tien said just because a practice is legal, however, that doesn’t make it good policy. “It seems like there are less creepy ways of doing this type of thing,” Tien said.
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