Google, British Military Discuss Google Earth Use in Attacks

Google is talking with military agencies after learning that terrorists attacking British bases in Basra, Iraq, appear to have been using aerial footage from Google Earth. It appears that among documents seized in raids on insurgents' homes, were printouts from Google Earth showing the location of buildings, tents, latrines and lightly armored vehicles. Precise longitude and latitude coordinates were also going to be used in the attacks.

"This is evidence, as far as we are concerned, for planning terrorist attacks. We believe they use Google Earth to identify the most vulnerable areas, such as tents," said an intelligence officer with the Royal Green Jackets battle group.

A few Royal Green Jackets soldiers have said they would consider suing Google if they were injured in an attack possible because of Google Earth.

Google's response to the problem: "Of course we are always ready to listen to governments' requests. We have opened channels with the military in Iraq, but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them. But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests."

News source: News.com

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22 Comments

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Why did these people never complain about it when it was still Keyhole?, or all the other freely available sources of satellite and aerial photo's, nobody seemed to care until Google released Earth.

O yeah what a joke, google earth on my city has data from 5 or 6 years ago, they update the photos each 15m on irak? or Moscow city info is arround 2003.

I fail to see how this is Googles fault or problem. If the British goverment wanted certain photos blanked out of their assets when you get to a certain zoom resolution level they should have asked instead of whining after the fact they get caugh with their pants down.

There are numerous places that Google has already removed from its detailed reslution maps at Goverment request. Googles not mind readers and do not employ people to review all maps for the chance that something "MIGHT" have been photographed from space that people didn't want published. They just take third party maps and incorperate it intop their product/software.

I know Google does listen to goverment request as I can find numerous places that are blanked out at certain resolutions due to national security concerns. But all those places were properly thought of in advance instead of waiting until after the fact.

schwit said,
Let'em sue as long as they and their lawyers can be flogged if the suit is determined to be frivolous.
The lawyers would have to do the bidding of the client regardless of their personal beliefs. flogging them for doing what they're obliged to do is just stupid.

There not going to sue, that whole sentence is poorly written, some journalist probably took what they said out of context or they were probably joking etc.

"I'm going to sue Wal-Mart! They sold me a screw-driver that impaled my foot when I dropped it!"

"I'm going to sue McDonald's! I ate there every day for 10 years and now the man from the Scooter Store is my best friend!"

"I'm going to sue God! He gave me these eyes, and I used them to scout for strategic bombing targets!"

"I'm going to sue myself! I made me think these awful things!"

Once again, freedom and technology is impaired/crippled/denied/restricted/etc.

How could the soldiers sue google? The program is only a vehicle to displaying aerial photos taken from other organizations.

That's exactly right. So some hot shot lawyer can say that without Google Earth, the terrorists probably wouldn't have the information to attack. He/she could say Google Earth was a vehicle in getting this attack going. Sucks.

zivan56 said,
They already have this. I noticed in the US you can't zoom in on some military objects.

You have to understand that Google Earth is made up of a composite of various sources. Most of the data you see on Google Earh comes from public or commercialy available satalite services, but around urban areas and other points of interest the data is supplemented by aerial photography. Naturally, the military doesn't permit commerical operators to fly though (much less photograph over) restricted military airspace. So, when you try and zoom in on most military installations (there are a few exceptions) in Ggogle Earth the level of detail is not as good as it may be in other places.

Nobody's deleting or withholding the relevant images, OK? There's just not any aerial photography available for those kinds of sites, for obvious reasons.

Croquant said,
Nobody's deleting or withholding the relevant images, OK? There's just not any aerial photography available for those kinds of sites, for obvious reasons.

Actually, they are. If you zoom in some bases, you will see large squares missing with everything surrounding it for miles fully zoom able.

It only makes sense that you put somewhat of a aerial survailance tool in the hands of terrorists, they're going to use it! DUH! there's something to be said about the ability of anyone around the globe being able to go to the internet and acquire detailed aerial photos along with precise coordinates of almost any region of the planet... i've wondered since this was released what was keeping it from being used in this manner.