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Google Earth Street View Image of Fort Sam Houston before it was Removed  (Source: BBC News)
Pentagon bans Google from taking images and video of military installations

Services like Google Earth are viewed by many to be nothing more than an interesting curiosity.  However, for the U.S. military and other world governments the satellite images and other footage Google offers on its Earth service represents a big security risk.

BBC News reports that the Pentagon has banned Google from filming inside and making detailed studies of U.S. military bases. The ban comes after detailed footage from inside and outside of the U.S. military base at Fort Sam Houston in Texas turned on up Google Earth’s Street View service.

Street View is a service of Google Earth that allows users of the application to travel down streets from the perspective of a car driver. The problem the Pentagon had with these images was that they were shot with great detail and were found to represent a significant security risk.

The defense department said in a statement quoted by BBC News, “Images include 360-degree views of the covered area to include access control points, barriers, headquarters, facilities and community areas.” The fear is that terrorists could use the detailed images to develop plans to attack the base.

Larry Yu, a Google spokesman, told BBC News that the decision to enter the US military base had been a “mistake.” Yu further said, “[it is] not our policy to request access to military installations, but in this instance the operator of the vehicle with the camera on top - which is how we go about capturing imagery for Street-View - requested permission to access a military installation, was given access, and after learning of the incident we quickly removed the imagery".

The U.S. military isn’t the only military force that has had problems with images shown on Google Earth. DailyTech reported in July of 2007 that satellite imagery form Google Earth had shown a new Chinese ballistic missile sub in dock. Indian officials became irate when images of its new Sukhoi 30 MK1 aircraft turned up on Google Earth as well.

A U.S. spy agency stated in May of 2007 that curbs needed to be placed on satellite images made available to the public.

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RE: That's weird...
By tjr508 on 3/7/2008 1:46:22 PM , Rating: 0
That would be a great if it were true. At least Google has people it has to answer to.

This is just another classic example of Government > People, but the government has had great political success in labeling the people as evil corperations.

I still can't believe they even still teach us about Thomas Jefferson and limited government in our unconstitutional public schools. Or do they still?

RE: That's weird...
By dever on 3/7/2008 2:08:03 PM , Rating: 3
While I completely agree with your statement, the fact that the van when "inside" the military complex seems to be over the top. Many corporations would be just as outraged if it were their property.

RE: That's weird...
By glennpratt on 3/7/2008 2:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where it was, but some military bases are like small cities. It's not like they went into a top secret area.

RE: That's weird...
By dever on 3/7/2008 3:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
I can see Microsoft welcoming the Google van onto their campus now. (Actually, they would probably think that would be great.)

However, if your company has a plant where knowledge of it's layout could help their competitors, I bet they would be pretty testy about using cameras ON THEIR PROPERTY.

RE: That's weird...
By Christopher1 on 3/7/2008 4:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
True. I am allowed on the base near where I live as long as I give them a reason for why I am going on the base. I've even told the person at the gate that I am going on the base to take pictures of landmarks around there, and they haven't done jack because I am honest about it and they gave me permission as long as I stayed away from the areas marked 'No civilians without military escort'.

RE: That's weird...
By SlyNine on 3/8/2008 9:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
Have you tried lately, Delivered furniture in Cheyenne. One day it was all peachy, the next day they had dogs sniffing the truck and guys with M16's watching over. I asked them if I could tour the base on my spare time, and they said they do not allow that right now nor do they plan on allowing it again.

So basically the base here is pretty much locked off from the general public unless you know someone on the inside, or you're let in because of where you work.

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