Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DIGILIFE | Google Earth, a weapon of war?

It's been around for a while, but we've only recently been hearing some serious complaints regarding Google Earth.

Although it may seem somewhat ridiculous, but a number of nations have complained that Google Earth's satellite photos reveal the locations of secret military facilities which, typically, would not be available so easily to their 'enemies'.

It seems strange that something as simple as Google Earth is considered dangerous, especially when you consider that the satellite pictures on offer are old, single snapshots which only show a location at one point in time, several months ago (around 14 months ago, based on some of the Jordan pictures I've looked at).

And, you’d expect that a country's enemies could get access to better and more recent satellite shots, right?

Wrong. Because in today's day and age of small-scale terrorism with limited resources, the typical 'enemy-of-the-state' doesn't have sophisticated resources and capabilities! Owning to the Internet, such an enemy doesn't need to look too far.

If an army's position (or barracks) doesn't change for over a year, then a Google Earth picture could be a sufficient guide to assist an enemy in targeting that position with weapons. This logic holds true with regard to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea.

Although it's called a DMZ, there is in fact a substantial military presence on both sides adjacent to the DMZ lines.Apparently, the South Korean government has complained to Google saying that the satellite photos of the DMZ show the permanent positions of the US & South Korean forces. If the North Koreans did not have access to satellite pictures in the past, they now do!

Some voices are being raised around the world about this. Some military commentators have said that the Google Earth shots around the world have captured a number of military exercises, test flights of aircraft, and even re-deployments of troops. Surely, knowing the date of those shots, would somehow help an enemy in predicting a pattern or a schedule for such activities.

So, it's basically a case of Google Earth empowering the 'have-nots' in a conflict and, thereby, upsetting the existing balance.

It all makes you think about the boundaries we need to all agree on with regard to technology at your fingertips. Should everyone have easy access to everything at their desktop?

In a perfect world, yes. But, there will be those who argue that we live in a dangerous world were Internet technology is fast becoming a weapon of war.

What do you think?


At 5:36 PM , Blogger Isam Bayazidi said...

mm.. When thinking that the enemy is another country, this whole thing doesn't make sense, but considering that the enemy are small groups, then you have a point. Nevertheless, small groups, so far, targets civilians and cities (transportation, and so) not military. One could claim that obtaining the information about a bus or train schedule in London is dangerous because one knows when to strike for an attack.

Information is getting more accessible, Google Earth just raised the bar on what could be accessed and how easily. Internet indeed creates new challenges for security, but so does mobiles, and those with cameras, laptops, and so on. What need to be done is how to use such available information to tighten security and make it better.

At 7:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL. ofcourse they have old pics of jordan. the google satellites are mostly over north america, used to map it for drivers to the smallest tiniest street. what i do when i want to go somewhere is check if the place has parking for my car coz im too cheap to pay 8 dollars parking! Google is taking over the world!!!!!!

At 9:55 AM , Blogger salam said...

i though JOrdan's pics were quite recent i don't know maybe I am wrong but i loved google earth and don't really think of it a threat,it's a wonderful tool,and not having it around will not stop terrorist threats,when someone is planning an attack he will find a way to do it regardless of googles contribution.

At 1:28 AM , Anonymous Killer Bee Bop said...

An interesting, informative and thought-provoking read ...

-Me, making a short praising comment? I must be way too stoned!-


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