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Google, Apple Use "Military-grade Spy Planes" for Map Apps

The technology giants' use of spying technology is drawing scrutiny over privacy concerns.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Up in the sky, it's a plane -- a spy plane. And it -- and Google and Apple -- are watching you.

    The technology giants are in a maps race, attempting to win the lion's share of the mobile and computer-based mapping market. And this has led to a spyplane race, as both companies are using "military-grade spy planes" to photograph American urban areas, a practice that's attracted interest from United States senators, according to Reuters.

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, sent a strongly-worded letter to the two companies on Monday. Schumer wrote that the Silicon Valley giants are engaging in "an unprecedented invasion of privacy" by using technology capable of recording pocket-sized objects, the news wire reported.

    Apple and Google have "military-grade spy planes with enough precision to see through windows, catch detailed images of private backyard activities, and record images as small as four inches," the news wire reported.

    The planes are being used to build the two firms' 3-D maps of American urban areas, the news service reported.

    Google says the resolution of its images isn't sharp enough "for it to be a concern," Reuters reported. And Apple said it does not display key details like faces or license plates, and that "we create optimized pictures taken from multiple shots and remove moving objects such as cars and people from the final images," Reuters wrote.