We need ground rules for geo information

Most people realise that technology shapes our lives, but few appreciate how much it shapes our laws. Consider the flint that Stone Age man fashioned. He could hardly have imagined, as he was using it to light a fire or hack a carcass apart, that his descendants would one day promote that kind of inventive step through patents.
So it is with the wonder of our age, the computer. We’ve scarcely started to grasp the scale of the changes information technology will bring this century.
One application is to help analyse, map and collate features of our surroundings across the planet and keep track of activity on it. This geo-information has tremendous benefits and is gaining in sophistication and power all the time.
Data sources to produce geo-information come from satellites, together with aerial and ground observation equipment around the world. They collect data from different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum or from probing with radar or with sonar in air or water. Their output can then be processed into multiple formats, depending on ultimate use, including images with layers of content added.
The scale of the phenomenon and the quantities of data involved are barely imaginable, but the effect is for humanity to be endowed with new senses that can reach to the Earth’s farthest corners. How this will affect our behaviour as individuals and societies will be one of the biggest questions of the Information Age.