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Insurgents Use Google Earth To Target British

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During a raid on Iraqi insurgents, British Army intelligence made a chilling discovery. Insurgents were using Google Earth to locate soft targets at British bases in Basra.

Among the documents seized were satellite photographs taken from Google Earth, according to the Telegraph, detailing tented barracks for about 1000 soldiers, lavatories, and parking areas of lightly armored vehicles. On the back, the insurgents had written latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates.

An intelligence officer expressed concern that information gleaned from Google Earth was being used to plan terrorist attacks, focusing on their most vulnerable areas.

The discovery hearkens back to worries expressed by the US military in August of 2005. Though photos are often up to two years old, US base Camp Anaconda was easily located using Google’s popular tool. Upon request, Google has often blocked out sensitive government locations, like buildings surrounding the White House.

But even blocking out locations may not be satisfactory for British soldiers in harm’s way. Members of the Royal Green Jackets, who are based in Basra, said if they are injured by insurgent attacks aided by Google Earth, Google could be facing lawsuits.

The Telegraph quotes an unidentified soldier:

Even if they did blank out the areas where we are based it is a bit after the horse has bolted as the terrorist now have the maps and know exactly where we eat, sleep and go to the toilet.


The US and England aren’t the only countries who’ve expressed security concerns about Google Earth. In fact, it’s become a quite regular complaint from governments around the world.

Also in August 2005, Australian officials asked Google to remove or censor images of a nuclear reactor.

In October the same year, Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam worried that Google Earth could increase threats to developing nations, which are already danger of, and more vulnerable to, terrorist attacks.

In August last year, a full-scale replica of the Chinese-Indian border was spotted via Google Earth further into the mainland of China – an apparent military training area.

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Insurgents Use Google Earth To Target British
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