There is something undeniably Orwellian about Google Earth. Type in your home address and the camera swoops down from the stratosphere to display a clear aerial shot of your house. Zoom in closer and you can make out the pink rhododendron on your front lawn and your car in the driveway.
You half expect to zoom into the living room window and see yourself sitting at your computer. Wave to the camera!
The myth about Google Earth is that it's the world's most powerful real-time spy camera. The truth is that every image you see on Google Earth is an average of one to three years old [source: Google Earth]. Google collects and composites images from satellite and aerial imaging companies like DigitalGlobe and Tele Atlas, as well as from government agencies and the armed forces.
So yes, it's possible to get caught on camera by Google Earth, but that would take an incredible amount of luck.
The "Street View" option on Google Maps has also come under fire from privacy advocates who believe it also functions as a spy camera. But once again, the images are only updated once every few years. Plus, Google has devised a face-blurring algorithm to protect the anonymity of folks accidentally captured on camera [source: Rosenblatt].