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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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By MrBlastman on 3/8/2008 3:01:24 AM , Rating: 2
Preventing Google from cataloging and posting detailed pictorial information of our military bases on the internet within the domestic United States in now way eliminates YOUR or OUR personal freedom in this country.

It protects it.

The people outside our nation that hate us so dearly (aka terrorists and other hostile nations) would take great joy in infiltrating our nation and conducting pinpointed attacks on critical areas of our infrastructure and perhaps the areas that defend us directly to create dissaray and chaos.

You see, if they were to succeed on such attacks due to Google being allowed to post information on our national defense, how much freedom would you have at that point?

I dare say you would have even less than you have now. Look at what happened after 9-11. The Patriot Act was signed into law. Albeit quite controversial, it has adversely effected quite a few of our civil liberties. The only reason we got to the point of 9-11 was Americas lackluster attitude towards the rest of the world that was out to get us and our ignorance towards what they sought to do to us.

So, you see, by practicing ignorance (like allowing Google to post information that could be used to plot an attack on a US installation), you are in effect continuing down the road of "ignorance is bliss" which in turn will doom you to yet further liberties being removed. I dare say that prevening Google is far less of an infringement on your day-to-day lives than what it could be if such an attack were to occur.

What would you rather have? I think it is silly to continue on the old ways of ignore until it hurts us. Complacency has doomed many a great Empire throughout the world. Do you really want to piss down the drain what hundreds of thousands of American men and women have died for?

The difference between a terrorist going down the same street and taking those pictures and the Google van is very simple:

The Google Van is already here. The Google Van shares such imagery in a catalogued way that is accessable GLOBALLY to people that do not even have to set foot outside of their own home. A terrorist on the other hand, would first have to gain access to our nation and then throughout all the dissaray they would then have to disseminate a plan of action in far more of a meticulous and cautious, time-consuming matter than they would otherwise. That is why there is a difference between the two. Having a plan already in place far before access is gained allows for advanced planning and more rapid implementation when within our nation. This also would increase their likelyhood of success.

Why take that chance? I'd rather preserve what liberties we have than give up even more to the absurdity of ignoring until it is too late.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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