Google Corrects Katrina Image Switch

After a barrage of negative publicity surrounding its decision to replace aerial images of areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina with pre-storm photos, Google has switched the images back.

Missing however is any explanation why the images were modified in the first place, other than to say that the pre-storm images provided much higher-resolution than those post-Katrina.

The move even caught the eye of Congress, with Democratic House Science Oversight Subcommittee chair Brad Miller of North Carolina accusing the company of "airbrushing history." Miller has also asked Google in a letter demanding an explanation why the images were changed, and if somebody asked them to be modified.

"Make no mistake, this wasn't any effort on our part to rewrite history," Google Maps director John Hanke said. "But it looks like this April Fool's joke was on us." Hanke said the company expedited getting new high-resolution images of the area, which were available as of Sunday night.

A spokesperson for Miller's office said that the Congressman still expects a response regardless of Google's actions to remedy the situation. The Mountain View, Calif. company was expecting to send a reply sometime Monday.

It did highlight that the changes were made in September of last year. "Given that the changes that affected New Orleans happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments," Hanke added.

He also said that the goal of the image change was to provide the best quality aerial images possible.

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