Regulation on the 'spatial resolution' of satellite imagery are somewhat similar to those that control 'proliferation' of missile technology or nuclear weapons. If your name is in the black book, you will be denied the availability. This logic did work a decade ago, when just about half a dozen countries had the capability to design, launch and maintain imaging satellites. The oft unsaid but nevertheless communicated signals were national security issues, control over cutting-edge technology, denial of information etc. Today, when graduate students are designing imaging satellites and getting them launched, regulation makes no sense and is also untenable. If the demand for very high resolution imagery from city planners, mapmakers, scientists, and oil and mining companies is not met, private companies will lose business to UAV operators. In this light, the statement from David Willetts, Britain's Minister for Science and Universities, debunking the European Commission’s effort to set common European regulations on the sale of high-resolution satellite imagery outside Europe, is perfectly timed. British government has concluded that a blanket EU regulation would undermine the commercial high-resolution satellite image industry in Europe.
It's high time that a machete job be done on regulation and satellite imagery at the highest resolution be made available through commercial channels.