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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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The military really missed out on this opportunity
By 7Enigma on 3/10/2008 8:09:21 AM , Rating: 2
Here's an idea:

Rather than requiring these images be taken down, the military should have gone to Google, explained how these images could be used for harm, and instead worked with Google to use modified images that are NOT accurate. Have a wall photoshopped out of the image, or put extra security measures in the photo so each base looks like a fortress. Keep the overall look similar so at first glance the Google image looks like the actual building. But if the image were to be used for infiltrating/destroying the base, there would be a critical flaw to the plan.

I'm sure all the armchair generals would jump at an opportunity to plan either a base so well fortified it would never be attacked, or so feeble an attacker wouldn't bring the proper hardware to get the job done.

Disclaimer: I am neither a Dem or Rep, normally fall on the "free speech" side of discussions, but in this case fully agree with the military's need/right to pull these images. I just feel they could have actually BENEFITTED from modifying them rather than the backlash created from having them taken down.

By MrBlastman on 3/10/2008 9:39:42 AM , Rating: 2
Given the fact that Google is a very Liberal organization, I don't think I could ever see them co-operating with the US Government.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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