Musings on Need

With a map, you cant [sic] count the number of bricks in a building, or see the elevator shafts. With this level of detail (afforded by online maps,) you can. I hear the argument that, “Yeah, I want to also ban cars because cars are used in robberies.” Look, cars have other commercial uses. There are no other uses for knowing on a map where there are air shafts.

– California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, in this article.
Who gives a damn if you think there’s a “need” for something or not? The default state of rights in this country is “on”, so it doesn’t matter if we need something or not. There’s plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting detailed aerial imagery of locations.
In the case of air shafts, it might be useful information for an HVAC company to know how many air handlers and shafts are located at schools, churches, government buildings, and medical facilities so they could plan marketing information (perhaps those companies would need someone to maintain those air handling systems?). Perfectly legitimate and non-terroristic.
What’s so special about schools, churches, government buildings, and medical facilities that they warrant special blurring? What about blurring out banks? Airports? Monuments? Private residences? Chemical companies? Railroad switching yards? All can be sensitive locations, but they’re not on the magical “blurry” list.
The most absurd thing is that even if such legislation were applied to mapping companies in the US, it’d be useless — what’s to prevent foreign mapping services from taking satellite/aerial photos of US locations and hosting them outside of US jurisdiction? What’s to prevent someone from taking pictures from an airplane and putting them together in a huge composite map? If Google Street View has to blur out those locations, what’s to prevent people from walking around with their own digital cameras and submitting them to mapping companies?
No, restrictions based on “need” are absurd. I don’t “need” aerial photography, but it makes life easier. I don’t “need” as many guns as I have (I only have two hands, after all), but I wanted to buy them. I don’t “need” to buy the foods I do, but I want to eat them. I don’t “need” my scooter or car, but I prefer using them to walking. Anyone could come up with a reason why I shouldn’t have such things because I don’t “need” them, but that would be silly and in direct contradiction to my individual rights.
I’d like to propose a new law: anyone trying to pass new legislation that attempts to justify itself by claiming that people don’t “need” something or claiming that this law is “for the children” should be flogged in public.

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