Google Earth Scares The Spooks

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The director of a U.S. intelligence agency has cautioned that the government may have to censor satellite images that could be a potential security threat to the country and its armed forces.

The warning came from Vice Admiral Robert Murret, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which provides security information using satellite imagery.

In an interview with the AP he said," If there was a situation where any imagery products were being used by adversaries to kill Americans, I think we should act."

"I could certainly foresee circumstances in which we would not want imagery to be openly disseminated of a sensitive site of any type, whether it is here or overseas".

Satellite images are widely available because of private companies like Digital Globe and Geoeye who have launched their own satellites and through services such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

Restricting satellite images also has other obstacles. If the area that is censored is too big it has the potential to become a freedom of the press issue, but if it is too narrow the government risks revealing strategic locations.

In addition Steven Aftergood, a secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists, points out that with the number of commercial satellites growing it could be impossible to restrict satellite imagery.

"I can foresee circumstances where they might wish they could. There can be cases where imagery could jeopardize the security of U.S. military operations.

"But this cat may be out of the bag for good. It’s just not clear that the legal or other tools needed to restrict disclosure are available".


Google Earth Scares The Spooks
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