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Google Removed Sensitive Maps Imagery (Apparently)  (View post)

Balachander T [PersonRank 1]

Thursday, January 18, 2007
16 years ago6,338 views


I am writing from India. I am used to reading statements by defence ministry or armed forces officials in India complain about google earth and how its a threat to security. I feel that they need to grow up and get used to free access of information by common people. I am interested to know if there have been confirmed incidents of misuse of data as the military officials worry.

But this news item does raise the question that is google worried only about US/UK soldiers? Are all other soldiers whose bases are still available on GE, not worth considering under such a company policy? I feel that its a step backwards by Google.

Terrorists are known to target civilian installations as well. So are all civilian areas going to be 'protected' as well? It seems to address the issue of govt pressure more than solving a problem.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Balachander T: I understand your concerns, but to answer some of your questions – in this particular example print outs from Google Earth (including lattitude / longitude locations) were found on Iraqi insurgents / terrorists, with notes and markings strongly suggesting they were using Google Earth imagery specifically to target those specific areas within miltary bases in Iraq.

There is still a question of how much good this type of action will do, particularly as this information is available from places other than Google Earth.

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

16 years ago #

Google takes the picture down so the blogosphere will just put the picture back up.

Smooth move.

Mark Cook [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Fair play by Google really. I'm all for freedom of information, and feeling about the Iraq war aside, it is being done to protect the lives our our troops who have been ordered to fight..

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Terrorists also use Google for finding out about the president of the United States. Censor Google!

The Google is evil!

Rob [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Mark: "our" troops?! Isn't Google an international company?

I wonder how much damage these images could really cause anyway. Everybody knows where the various bases are, maps are freely available, and locally-employed workers are entering and leaving them every day.

(Disclosure: I spent several months in 2005 living on a Multinational Forces base in Basra, serving in British Army.)

elyk [PersonRank 6]

16 years ago #

Google's still based in the US. Mountain View, CA to be exact.
>>Terrorists also use Google for finding out about the president of the United States. Censor Google!
I remember reading an article that aimed to show that, by that logic, virtually everything is helping the terrorists. Take pencil and paper. Pen is greater than the sword comments aside, are they helping the terrorists? (I know, you could also stab someone with a pencil). Most would agree no. But think about it. How do the terrorists send notes to each other when not at their computers? What were those google maps printouts printed on (probably not parchment or canvas)? If you go by the logic that if it potentially helps terrorism it needs to be banned, then nothing would be permitted.

Eugene Varnavsky [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Military base layont is usually not a thing that is good to be kept open to everyone. There ARE still military and state secrets. And I don't think it's against information freedom to have such secrets.

ryo [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

Well if Google isn't an international company, what the heck they doing with MY countries Domain, and why they don't block international requests from other countries ?

Well, because Google is an international Company.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

> If you go by the logic that if it potentially helps
> terrorism it needs to be banned, then nothing would
> be permitted.

Powerful people throughout history knew and used this logic – there's nothing better than fear to control people.

Scott [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

If you were a good... err... bad little terrorist or multi national organization bend on world domination... (ala Cobra from GI Joe)....

Would you not simply compare old / new maps and determine where reversions have been made thus zero in on both active and secret government bunks and such?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Ouch. Good point Scott.

vrikodhara [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

Re: Balachander T

Eytan Buchman [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

About Google and its international status – there is a significant difference between a trans-national corporation and a international corporation. An international company is one which is clearly based in one country, maintains the logistical headquarters there and associates itself with that country. For example, Ford Motors is an American country. On the other hand, there are companies that de-territorialize themselves in order to save a few bucks. Nike would be a good example. It opened and closed 55 factories between 2002 and 2007 around the world, based on changing prices and cheaper factories. The logistical center is still of no importance.

Google, in my opinion, clearly favors the American market. No one could possibly contend that their research facilities abroad are seen as close to important as California. Services released are generally Ameri-centric and are released in other markets much later. The EU has the third largest population after India and China but Google targets the US primarily anyways. As such, I would imagine that Google feels a moral obligation to help out America a little more than other countries. However, I do know that certain places out here in Israel have been edited off.

Balachander T [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

Re: vrikodhara and Reto Meier

Thanks for the links.

Probably Google is waiting for each govt to ask it before it makes their military installations less clear, rather than taking a wholesale approach.

But this is just one dimension of a trend in the govt mindset i think. In the govt someone might realise that the govt's monopoly mapping agencies (in India) are selling obsolete data for a price and that GE is more up to date and might therefore demand Google to remove data of the entire country. In the Indian context, GE is a disruptive technology and the govt is having a tough time understanding this. It is rather sad that ironically public money is funding such outrageous demands!

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