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Experts are beginning to worry that satellite imagery that is viewable by programs such as Google Earth are just too good

The increasing availability of commercial satellite photos has made some intelligence and satellite experts nervous.  Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a small U.S. spy agency, believes that some satellite photos should be limited from the public for security purposes. Murrett wants the U.S. Government to restrict access to high-resolution imagery.

Murrett participates in geospatial intelligence, a growing field which studies images to help examine activities. “If there was a situation where any imagery products were being used by adversaries to kill Americans, I think we should act,” Murrett said during a rare interview.

He later admitted that there are a number of scenarios where high-resolution imagery should not be used here or overseas.

U.S. Spy satellites were previously used, especially during the Cold War, as a secret military asset to gain intelligence. However, companies such as Geoeye and Digital Globe launched commercial satellites which share many of images with the public. Both companies are ready to launch new satellites that will allow users to view even higher-resolution photographs, but with several guidelines. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will help the company limit the quality of public images to a resolution ranging somewhere around a half-meter.

Google Earth is powered by companies such as Geoeye and Digital Globe. India considered filing an official complaint against Google Earth, claiming the program allowed people to view state secrets.  The government was concerned after images showed around six or seven state-of-the-art fighter craft.



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They're just now saying this?
By FITCamaro on 5/9/2007 12:33:16 PM , Rating: 2
I've been thinking this since day one of Google Earth. At the very least don't show areas with sensitive things in them. Such as Washington, D.C around the White House, Cape Canaveral around the space center, etc.




RE: They're just now saying this?
By Spyvie on 5/9/2007 12:39:21 PM , Rating: 4
The images of the three areas I'm most familiar with, Phoenix, Denver, and Las Vegas are all at least a year or more out of date. I don't know how valuable Google earth would be for espionage.

Maybe useful for mapping and planning, but mostly useless for finding out what's going on right now.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By rklaver on 5/9/2007 2:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
I've lived in my house since the end of 2001 and google earth shows a vacant lot with no neighborhood yet. So I'd say it's pretty useless for spying purposes (as of right now)


RE: They're just now saying this?
By Rage187 on 5/9/2007 3:10:31 PM , Rating: 3
It's not updated because pictures of the area haven't been requested.

For areas with commercial value, more satelite pictures are ordered, hence the pictures are more up to date.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By stinkyj on 5/10/2007 10:55:12 AM , Rating: 2
Actually they're aerial photographs not satellite. That's a popular misconception.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By BladeVenom on 5/9/2007 1:22:52 PM , Rating: 5
I have idea, maybe they should throw a tarp over their top secret projects. They could even make their tarp the same color as the ground so as to not arouse suspicion. I think I'll name this new idea "camouflage."


RE: They're just now saying this?
By arazok on 5/9/2007 2:05:25 PM , Rating: 1
Throw a tarp over the White House and watch every tinfoil loving lefty claim it as proof that the US is an evil empire bent on world domination.

I think it would be much easier to just supply these companies with a 'no-photograph' list of X,Y coordinates.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By lennylim on 5/9/2007 2:09:28 PM , Rating: 5
Any terrorist who needs satellite imagery to find the White House is probably not someone to be too worried about.

Providing X,Y coordinates merely helps pinpoint areas of interest.

Besides, I think they're saying that, where X,Y covers the entire United States.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By FITCamaro on 5/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: They're just now saying this?
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 3:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
Terrorists tend to not have ICBMs. You can take this to be pretty true because if they had one they would have already used it. Are you the guy who at some point posted on here that the 9/11 hijackers were being "continually fed GPS data from inside the towers" or something to that effect? Just in case the building was going to move or become inconspicuous or something?

There is certainly reason to black out some information from satellite images accessible to all, but preventing people from knowing the location of national landmarks that the public generally has access to isn't one of them.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By Ringold on 5/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: They're just now saying this?
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 5:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
So you think that making them go on a short drive past the target will prevent them from launching an attack.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By Ringold on 5/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: They're just now saying this?
By Zoomer on 5/9/2007 6:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, but what about TV guided missiles?

Geez.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By Mclendo06 on 5/9/2007 2:09:07 PM , Rating: 3
All of these places you list could be imaged easily with a simple two seater plane ride. Even Washington D.C., with its no-fly zones, can't prevent an individual from taking a photograph of the top of the White House or Capitol from an angle. The one area where I could see Google Earth being an issue would be sensitive military facilities. In those cases, allow the military to choose what time the photographs are taken so that they don't accidentally leave some top secret aircraft out on the tarmac at that time, although I am pretty sure that the only time the military is going to have top secret aircraft out of the hangar is at night. The benefit that Google Earth provides I feel far outweighs potential negatives. Google Earth isn't the only beneficial tool that can be used for malicious purposes. Restricting it sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to the restriction of many tools we enjoy using today due to the fact that they could be utilized for malicious purposes. If I were a terrorist, I certainly would use cell phones, GPS, maps, and many other items that are used widely by the population. Does that mean that the usage of these tools should be restricted for the general populace? Certainly not.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By Ringold on 5/9/2007 5:39:55 PM , Rating: 1
If the restrictions were sane, I wouldn't see too bad of a precedent being set. The world isn't all smiles and hugs, and this new era of technology gives us more data that any single human could ever fully digest or use. Do people need to be able to see the fact my neighbor left her sliding glass door open about a year ago on MSN's satellite image service? No, but you can. I see no legitimate use for that resolution of imagery, and plenty of possible abuse, so restricting the resolution and blacking out military or sensitive areas would be perfectly okay in my book. We can't stop everything, but unlike cell phones and maps which are widely available and heavily used, this seems to be an easy one to take care of. Does anybody need high resolution satellite imagery? No. If they do, they can ask the Pentagon for it. Abuse is possible, so they ought to just do what they need for security here and move on to more complicated issues than this.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By dever on 5/10/2007 4:45:22 PM , Rating: 2
You may not see a legitimate need for civilian high resolution images. But that doesn't mean there isn't one. Or more importantly, that there won't be one in the future. I'm not sure what the right solution is for this, but in fifty years, these resolutions will probably seem ridiculously crude.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By SOFR on 5/11/2007 11:20:00 AM , Rating: 2
I was saying something about this to Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-Iowa) SHORTLY AFTER the 11 September 2001 attacks upon this Republic, because of the IAAP plant out in Southeast Iowa. He contacted the Army District Command via Arlington, and he in turn, received a reply from the C.O. (a copy of that reply listing my name, then fowarded to me) indicating that the Army does have the authority to control what goes out on Army government websites (as far as satellite photos are concerned) but have no control over any civilian sites that provide the same satellite images.


RE: They're just now saying this?
By 1615 on 5/11/2007 1:59:57 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Mclendo, you are completely wrong on this one. I happen to be a pilot who flies 2-seaters pretty often. In fact, I fly them 100% of the time within the Washington ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) What most people don't realize is that there is restricted airspace within the restricted airspace. The White House is at the center of the most restrictive airspace in the country, if not the world. The surrounding area has altitude limits, so I could never get high enough to take a picture of the White House, or anything else in downtown DC. In fact, the max altitude within 25 miles of the White House is 2500 feet. I can barely spot the Washington Monument on very clear days. Trust me, these guys have thought this one through.

Incidentally, I fly out of Tipton airport (FME). Have some fun and look on Google Earth at the facility just across the road to the north of that airport. If there was ever a secure government facility out there, this one has got to be it. In fact, until a few years ago, Tipton was actually a part of that facility.


No good way around it
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 12:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
It has to be better to disguise a facility from above than to try to censor the photos because then people can just look for blank spots.

Maybe the best way to go about it is to have some government agency receive all images, photoshop things out as needed, and return the sanitized ones. This still leaves open the potential for doing a diff between images at Google, but that's no worse than "you just can't photograph this location."




RE: No good way around it
By frobizzle on 5/9/2007 1:25:41 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Maybe the best way to go about it is to have some government agency receive all images, photoshop things out as needed, and return the sanitized ones.

What you describe is still csnsorship and as someone already said, in this day of crumbling and evaporating rights, the last thing we need is more government censorship!


RE: No good way around it
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 3:38:35 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between freedom of speech censorship and actual valid national security censorship. Anyone with half a brain can understand why you can't get nuclear launch codes from a FOIA request. It does not abridge anyone's freedom that performance specs on Navy jets aren't public domain. There is no compelling reason that the public should have access to overhead photos of military bases, and many compelling reasons why they shouldn't.


RE: No good way around it
By aos007 on 5/9/2007 4:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
There are "compelling" reasons either way, actually. Someone making that decision "for you" is where the problem is.

At any rate, I believe this is simply a moot point, a reflection of thinking of the years past. Other countries already have this info. Before satellites, preventing photography might have made sense as not everyone had high altitude spy planes. Today? What good (or bad) is going to come out of knowing how many tanks and helicopters are stationed in a base?

Actually, I can see the point in cases of bases set up in current hotspots such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as local insurgents could gain valuable info. But again, if photos are not up-to-date they are of limited use, and there are always other ways to get this information anyhow.

Security through obscurity, not sure if it's a worthwhile argument. If they want to blank out bases in Iraq, I see no problem with that. But blanking out every military installation anywhere is uncalled for.


RE: No good way around it
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 4:12:53 PM , Rating: 2
There are "compelling" reasons either way, actually. Someone making that decision "for you" is where the problem is.

What compelling reasons do you have to get aerial photography of top secret Air Force facilities?

Security through obscurity, not sure if it's a worthwhile argument. If they want to blank out bases in Iraq, I see no problem with that. But blanking out every military installation anywhere is uncalled for.

I never said every military base everywhere. I said the government should be able to protect its defense secrets. A National Guard base with a giant sign in front - I'm not so worried about. A black research facility out in the desert - I'd like to keep it hidden.


RE: No good way around it
By 91TTZ on 5/9/2007 5:39:50 PM , Rating: 2
I never said every military base everywhere. I said the government should be able to protect its defense secrets. A National Guard base with a giant sign in front - I'm not so worried about. A black research facility out in the desert - I'd like to keep it hidden.

Keep it hidden from who? The only ones that are left in the dark about it is the American public. Hell, the American public only found out that Gary Powers' U2 was shot down when the Soviets produced the wreckage. We sure as hell weren't going to tell. But why? Who was the US government hiding it from? The Soviets? The ones who actually produced the wreckage and told the American public?

Do you really think that Russia and China have no satellites that pass over the US? You can bet that their resolution is the best that money can buy. I wouldn't be worried about commercial satellite imagery when other countries already have the images they want, obtained with their own satellites.


RE: No good way around it
By BMFPitt on 5/9/2007 5:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
I know very well that other major powers have the images. We also have a lot of enemies that are pretty low tech relatively speaking, and from them we can still hide a lot.

My initial post states that camouflage from the air is way more effective than any type of image blocking. I doubt North Korea has much in the way of detailed images. I'd prefer they didn't get any.


RE: No good way around it
By 91TTZ on 5/9/2007 5:33:32 PM , Rating: 1
It does not abridge anyone's freedom that performance specs on Navy jets aren't public domain.

Performance specs on Navy jets already are public domain. They have no jets with secret performance specs.


RE: No good way around it
By Ringold on 5/9/2007 5:50:48 PM , Rating: 3
Really? Tell me the precise maximum speed of the F-22 Raptor, combat range, rate of climb, or economy cruise speed? Or perhaps the maximum structural cruise speed? Or perhaps the maximum dive depth of the Virginia-class submarine?

No, performance specs of many military vehicles are not public domain. Ballpark figures are out there, along with arm-chair general's vague personal estimates, but estimates don't help the enemy and serve to make their fearful of their full capacity while keeping that capacity a state secret.

Not that Google Earth tells us performance specs, but just correcting your statement.


RE: No good way around it
By 91TTZ on 5/10/2007 11:18:02 PM , Rating: 2
Really? Tell me the precise maximum speed of the F-22 Raptor, combat range, rate of climb, or economy cruise speed? Or perhaps the maximum structural cruise speed? Or perhaps the maximum dive depth of the Virginia-class submarine?


There is not a single F-22 in the Navy. It's an Air Force aircraft, not a Navy Aircraft.

The Virginia class submarine is not a Navy aircraft, either.


Umm, how is this enforceable
By Kuroyama on 5/9/2007 12:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
Given that many countries are now capable of launching halfway decent satellites, I see little reason to believe that censoring Google is going to make these images unavailable. Some overseas company will just sprout up and offer uncensored versions.

The only way to really make a go at this would be some sort of international agreement. But in that case we'll have to censor Google's images of sites in China, India, etc in return for them doing the same favor for us. Don't think that'll happen.




RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By aos007 on 5/9/2007 1:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Last thing we need in this time of rapidly crumbling freedoms is even more censoring. Besides, if something is that important and should be kept secret, shouldn't it already be disguised so that other countries can't see / figure it with their satellites? The only other thing to be "worried" about is being able to see external layout of buildings - and since just about everything is target to a terrorist, obscuring pictures of well known and well defended buildings seems absurd to me. Now if you could see the real-time high resolution live or delayed VIDEO feed footage, that's different - but occasionally updated high res snapshots?


RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By Proteusza on 5/9/2007 1:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, imagine a military going to google earth for intel!

I think its stupid, and its a stupid idea to limit our freedom and our information. I dont see how this information could be used negatively, I dont see why freedom should be limited for it, and I get irritated when the government tries to control information and the internet, like banning the .xxx domain kinda stuff.


RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By nekobawt on 5/9/2007 1:57:17 PM , Rating: 3
Does the .xxx domain thing even count as government censorship, though? From my understanding, ICANN didn't think there was any point to creating a .xxx domain. It's hardly "censorship" if the option was never there to begin with...

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=6707


RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By johnsonx on 5/9/2007 3:16:20 PM , Rating: 1
The .xxx TLD wasn't created because no one wanted it except the registrar pushing it. Since the ICANN can't censor website content, they can't force porn sites out of the .com, .net and .org TLD's and into the new .xxx. No porn site operator would choose to be in a TLD that will no doubt be blocked on the majority of systems. The one registrar pushing the .xxx TLD was already making money on it by the usual methods, telling domain owners that they need to pay up to secure their .xxx domain name before someone else does. Unless someone gives a ratings board the power to force porn sites off the regular TLD's an .xxx or .sex TLD is absolutely pointless.


RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By Zoomer on 5/9/2007 6:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
And that someone has to have global authority. Else, it's moot.


By Shadowself on 5/9/2007 4:02:52 PM , Rating: 4
The bottom line is that it is only enforceable on U.S. companies.

True. There are several non U.S. companies (and a few governments which also sell imagery on the commercial market) which offer imagery as good as or better than the U.S. commercial remote sensing satellite vendors do. The U.S. government has absolutely NO way of enforcing a "no image capture" policy on any of them.

The real solution is to not do anything critical when these satellites fly over! The orbits of each and every one of these satellites is known. It is easy to predict when they are overhead. Just don't do anything sensitive when they are there! Besides, the orbits they are on mean each of them comes over at best once per day -- and at worst every few weeks (assuming no cloud cover is in the way then it could be months between useful images).

By mid next decade there will by 0.10 meter resolution imagery available commercially from multiple sources. Attempting to restrict this is pure lunacy. Most of the people in the NSC, NSA, CIA and elsewhere know this and will openly admit this if you talk to them one-on-one. To say otherwise is political posturing and has no basis in reality.

The U.S. remote sensing satellite owners are currently subject to "shutter control" already and have been since they started. There has only been a single case where it has ever been enforced and it was actually "check book shutter control" as NIMA (as NGA was called then) bought up 100% of the satellite owner's imagery over Afganistan during the first few months of that conflict.


RE: Umm, how is this enforceable
By Ringold on 5/9/2007 5:58:23 PM , Rating: 1
The point isn't about China, India, or those types of threats. It's about deterring the smaller groups of crazies, like less organized Al Qaeda cells or those idiots that thought they could just buy arms willy nilly and go on a rampage at Fort Dicks this week.

Besides, if anybody believes this would be an unprecedented case of the US censoring publically available data for security reasons, I'd merely point to any of a thousand things both Lincoln and Roosevelt did on mere whims of paranoia (yet were effective). For the moment, god only knows what all was censored, manipulated or lied about during the Cold War, but I reckon once our grandchildren find out it'll be comparable.


spy planes ?
By mforce on 5/9/2007 1:07:26 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know if it's possible now but I'm pretty sure in the near future you're going to have very tiny spy planes which can cover sensitive areas which google earth won't show you. Besides I bet some companies in some countries will sell you photos of just about anything in the USA if the price is right. I can't think of a Chinese or Russian company saying: sorry, we really can't sell sat. pictures of the White House.




RE: spy planes ?
By Mitch101 on 5/9/2007 1:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
The military has something like that already they are about the size of you hand and can send back camera information to local troops so basically you can see where your enemy is. I think its only good for a few hundred yards but that should be plenty. Its pretty amazing to see what I would imagine looks like a childs toy and then the opposing force would know you have 5 people hiding behind the wall with whatever you were carrying.

I also read about a new weapon that requires no explosive. It travels at such a velocity that it can destroy a tank even armor protected tanks and explosive protected armor tanks because the speed of the projectile moves faster than the explosives that could counter it.

My favorite WTF weapon is the sound weapon they can blast a beam of sound that when you walk into its projected path it feels like you skin is burning even though its not. Not sure if prolonged exposure would cause an issue but needless to say when it hits you your quick to get out of its path. You certainly cant stand there and fire a gun at anyone. They want approval to use it for crowd control.

As for satelite imaging I recall a guy saying he could see a penny on the deck of a ship and tell you if it was heads or tales. Of course they still deny that ability but I find it funny we can see a billion miles away into space but somehow they try to tell us they dont have the tech to do this when the super telescope is aimed back at us.

And this is just a fraction of what the Military lets us know about.


RE: spy planes ?
By johnsonx on 5/9/2007 3:35:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I also read about a new weapon that requires no explosive. It travels at such a velocity that it can destroy a tank even armor protected tanks and explosive protected armor tanks because the speed of the projectile moves faster than the explosives that could counter it.


That sounds like the kinetic energy penetrators that have been used for 60 years for tank killing. A modern finned depleted uranium or tungsten discarding sabot round with no explosive at all packs a serious punch. E=MV^2. Are you sure you read about something new? Perhaps just a new flavor of the same old thing?


RE: spy planes ?
By Mitch101 on 5/9/2007 5:27:10 PM , Rating: 2
I thinking its a new flavor even faster and more destructive but then were probably hearing about the 40 year old version. The reason I say that is this was finless where you mention finned. Im thinking the firing device spins the projectile before or during firing for stability.

I also recall a similar hollow projectile which is like a pipe coming at you at rediculous speeds but not sure where that falls in. Making the item hollow reduced the air resistance. Might have been related to the rail gun.


RE: spy planes ?
By johnsonx on 5/10/2007 3:03:40 PM , Rating: 2
The finless ones are the older design of KEP. A long, thin projectile makes the best KEP, but the longer they make them the more unstable they become. Spinning helps less on a longer projectile, and spinning also robs some of the energy. So instead they make the projectile much smaller than the barrel, and add fins and a discarding sabot to fill the barrel diameter. These are fired from a smooth-bore gun on modern tanks (though I think some countries still used rifled barrels for use with other types of rounds, and have some sort of bearings in the sabot to prevent the KEP itself from spinning). Once the explosive charge fires the projectile by pushing on the sabot, the sabot falls away (discarding).


RE: spy planes ?
By Rebel44 on 5/9/2007 5:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
Thats LOSAT aka KEM - its missile with 20KG tungsten "warhead" with speed 1700m/s and range 8KM which means that nothing can survive such impact. smaller and lighter version called CKEM should replace Javelin - Its good to have the best weapons in the world :)


India has...
By Noya on 5/9/2007 12:41:54 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know India has state of the art fighter aircraft?




RE: India has...
By mforce on 5/9/2007 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 3
Sure they do , the Russians sell them if you have the money to pay.
"Indian authorities are concerned that state-of-the-art Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter planes were caught on camera."
You can find more data about it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_Su-30
It does indeed sound like a good aicraft.


RE: India has...
By jarman on 5/9/2007 1:04:57 PM , Rating: 1
Well, "state of the art" may be debatable. Modern may be a better term.


RE: India has...
By bubbacub616 on 5/9/2007 2:36:13 PM , Rating: 3
yeah they are coming along pretty quickly - look at the next gen russian fighters which are going to made collaboratively:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Air_Force#In_D...


RE: India has...
By bubbacub616 on 5/9/2007 2:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
wish i could edit my own posts


I'd like to propose a curb of my own
By kattanna on 5/9/2007 2:31:00 PM , Rating: 4
I'd like to propose a curb on stupid backward thinking government officials, but since 3 out of 10 Rep nominees for president dont believe in evolution..im doubting thats going to happen anytime soon




By feraltoad on 5/9/2007 3:02:11 PM , Rating: 4
Maybe, they're afraid someone will see evolution on Google Earth? The resolution is pretty impressive in Detroit. Though, that might not be the best place to look for any signs of evolution.


There's already restitrictions...
By Alachmed on 5/9/2007 9:28:14 PM , Rating: 3
Google earth already has areas that are restricted, try looking for Hanford, WA on google earth and see what you find. I live next a large (600+ square miles) Dept. of Energy site that stores a large chunk of the nuclear waste in the US, a national laboratory, nuclear reactor and various other sensitive things. Pretty much the whole area is grayed out below a certain resolution. I personally don't have a problem with this, I know some people will scream bloody murder over their rights being infringed but such is life. I'm sure that there are many areas that have similar restrictions and for good reason. And I know for a fact that if you tried to do a fly-over you'd have company with missles strapped on the wings real fast.




By gdtaylor on 5/10/2007 2:33:13 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I live next a large (600+ square miles) Dept. of Energy site that stores a large chunk of the nuclear waste in the US, a national laboratory, nuclear reactor and various other sensitive things.


You don't need to restrict satellite imagery to secure these sorts of facilities. Pave the roads so that vehicles don't leave tracks. Cover the car parks / loading areas so that movements aren't observable. Make the buildings shapes as generic as possible to make it difficult to determine their purpose. Cover air-conditioning units and cooling towers. Create dummy structures, for example if a sensitive building has cooling towers, place cooling towers near every building. These and other measures would protect the site without unnecessarily restricting access to satellite imagery.


By jedswift on 5/11/2007 12:55:54 PM , Rating: 2
Doen't feel too secure in everyone else's ignorance. Very good imagery of the Hanford area, to the sub-inch resolution, and other data could easly be gathered including thermal, ionizing radiation, trace isotopes etc. Note the current aerial chart covering the Hanford area only restricts flight at or below 1,800 feet mean sea level (MSL). See http://skyvector.com/#21-1-3-4256-2431. Looking at the chart, scroll North a few miles, and noting that the area boasts towers to 1054 feet MSL, 1,800 would be a somewhat low safe altitude for the prudent pilot anyway. Protecting you is not why governments restrict information.


By Hakuryu on 5/9/2007 2:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
Spying isn't a new thing. Before satellites, high altitude planes did the same thing. Countries have been aware of this for a long time, and have done things to limit their risk. I read about Area 51 planes only test flying at night for example.

If I was the head of the India(n?) Air Force, personally I would be ashamed to admit my ability to keep secrets about my aircraft were leaked by an outdated satellite view on Google. The real threat is other countries viewing your arsenal, and I'm sure the US military doesn't use Google to get their information... they have their own satellites.

Bringing up terrorism and spots like the White House is absurd. You can easily get a much better map of DC from any gas station around there... one that shows road types, elevation, and any number of things that might not be readily apparent from a visual image.




By feraltoad on 5/9/2007 3:00:06 PM , Rating: 4
That is exactly why we need to get rid of Maps with too much detail, showing roads for example. It's our loose ways with dangerous information like atlases referencing the locations of our cities that will get our throats cut. Afterall, one cannot kill the opponent one cannot find. We must become THE NINJAS OF CARTOGRAPHY!!!

"Do you know where _____ is?" "Terrorist!!! Lost foreign terrorist!!!" <begins the stoning>


Armchair Generals
By Ringold on 5/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: Armchair Generals
By bubbacub616 on 5/9/2007 8:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
its the principle dude - like the thin end of a really really fat wedge


RE: Armchair Generals
By Scrogneugneu on 5/9/2007 11:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is, everything Google Earth might show you with hi-res pictures, the people that can do bad stuff with it already have it.

If there's a commercially available satellite picture solution that's hi-def enough to be considered dangerous, don't you think that every single "enemy" out there already has something better, either by themselves or by a friend?

The United States can spy on pretty much anyone on the planet. Russia and China are in the same situation. Therefore, logically, anyone can get a hi-res picture of just about anywhere - provided they ask the right entity.

What do you need to learn from some hi-res pictures of a military base anyway? "Oh, they got planes!" Well, duh... no need for hi-res pictures to know that.


RE: Armchair Generals
By Proteusza on 5/10/2007 4:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
One doesnt need to be an ex general to comment on this. Why should this information be restricted? I dont understand.

What harm could it cause? What could possibly happen as a result of google earth information being available? Are terrorists going to launch a precision strike on area 51? Okay they might, but they wouldnt get their info from google earth.

It seems many people cling to the old idea that all information must be restricted, and that in some cases the flow of information must be restricted for the greater good. but I just dont see how restricting information serves any interest other than misguided military officials, who 1) Shouldnt have influence over a civilian project like google earth, 2) Should do a better job of disguising their sites if they are concerned about people using pixellated satellite imagery to plan an invasion.

I dont see how the military should affect a civilian project. the military serves the country, it does not run it.


Actually
By Treckin on 5/9/2007 8:14:49 PM , Rating: 1
Really, what I find most interesting about this discussion, is the ZERO amount of research anyone has put into this...
Did anyone ever bother to LOOK on google earth for, say, area 51? take a peak, its about 120 miles north north west of Vegas... BIG WHITE SPOT... thats whats right smack where the base is... roads going in one side, coming out the other. about 75 to 100 miles to the west are the huge craters from the nucular testing - something like the hills have eyes scenery. The military does not get surprised by technology 3+ years after its public and popular. There are channels, executuve orders, gag orders etc that shut things like that down or limit (alter photos) them with not so much as a skweak from the company. The issue addressed in the article was the rising resolution of the available cameras onboard the satalites.
In any case, as was stated above, 'in this era a dwindling personal freedoms' the military/government is not even remotely threatened by things like google earth.
One final example - and I would hope that someone would check this out -
In 2005/2006, a company in silicon valley, out of Palo Alto, invented an 'unbreakable' (I dont know how one would confirm an encryptions invulnerability)voice encrypion algorithem. Within 2 days, all of the companies science journel releases were retracted, news articles shutdown, headquarters closed, and everything completly snuffed out. The speculation was that the NSA had not only shut everything down and gagged the media from publisizing, but had recruited every simgle employee with the technical know-how.
Please forgive the spelling, im in a hurry




RE: Actually
By Triring on 5/9/2007 8:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One final example - and I would hope that someone would check this out -In 2005/2006, a company in silicon valley, out of Palo Alto, invented an 'unbreakable' (I dont know how one would confirm an encryptions invulnerability)voice encrypion algorithem. Within 2 days, all of the companies science journel releases were retracted, news articles shutdown, headquarters closed, and everything completly snuffed out


I hope you see the irony in your above statement, how can a person check out your claim if all of the news were snuffed out?
On a serious note this will become dangerous if it is enforced since the government will also be able to seal arial photos of incidents that the government maybe held responsible of.
Chemical spills, friendly fire on commercial jets, etc. anything that may provoke the public could be and would be gaged.


RE: Actually
By JS on 5/10/2007 9:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One final example - and I would hope that someone would check this out - In 2005/2006, a company in silicon valley, out of Palo Alto, invented an 'unbreakable' (I dont know how one would confirm an encryptions invulnerability)voice encrypion algorithem. Within 2 days, all of the companies science journel releases were retracted, news articles shutdown, headquarters closed, and everything completly snuffed out.


Sounds very much like an urban legend to me. Any specifics please? And I am curious about how you retract articles from a science journal. Did the NSA visit all the subscribers with a pair of scissors? And how do you "shut down" a news article if it has already been published?

I may be uninformed, but I also do not understand how a voice encryption algorithm would differ from an encryption algorithm in general.

quote:
Really, what I find most interesting about this discussion, is the ZERO amount of research anyone has put into this...


I would say likewise about your post.


isnt it kinda silly?
By sadffffff on 5/9/2007 9:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
isnt it kinda silly to block the public from seeing the high resolution images? the government/military is what other contries are concerned with, and the government is going to have full resolution access to the satelites, regardless.

whats the worry if the public sees them?




It's really not about terrorists
By Zurtex on 5/9/2007 9:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but a terrorist probably wants to attack a highly public target, e.g the white house. You're probably fine just picking up an A-Z of Washington rather than satellite imagery to work out exactly where that is.

It's more a nation vs. nation thing. It becomes an issue when a neighbouring, but slightly technologically inferior country doesn't have to bother setting up a spy satellite system because they can just download Google Earth and get people to comb through it to work out where all sensitive military bases are (like with Pakistan and India). o.k, Google Earth never has any newer pictures than 6 months ago on it and you don't have any real time or month by month comparison so you don't get any sense of things moving around, but it's still potentially quite a risk.




By gdtaylor on 5/10/2007 2:20:52 AM , Rating: 2
Governments simply need to adapt to the changed environment that readily available commercial satellite imagery presents.

Important buildings and installations can be covered and sensitive equipment/positions can be covered or otherwise protected from aerial view. Military movements can be done at night or camouflage can be placed on vehicles to obscure them. Efforts can be made to cover the tracks made by military vehicles. Aircraft can be kept in hangers or under camouflage netting. These are common-sense counter-measures to aerial observation which have been used since at least the First World War, if not earlier.

These types of measures would have little impact on the public and wouldn't require the censorship of satellite imagery. Restricting access to satellite imagery or otherwise censoring these images is simply bureaucratic laziness.

The only restriction which I would consider reasonable is a short delay (30 days would seem reasonable) between when photographs are taken and when they are released to ensure that military movements cannot be observed.




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