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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Google Earth blocking details about Israel?

Last week, I reported that 'Palestinian' terrorists from 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades were using Google Earth to find targets for their Kassam rocket fire from Gaza.

Soccer Dad is now reporting that Google is blocking details from Israel - at least partially and at least in some views - although there appear to be indications that the blockage is temporary and may be quietly re-opened in the future:

So when I saw this item, I thought, "Oh good, Google has responded to the concerns."

A tipster to Newsbusters shares the following info: A search of Google maps under "Israel" reveals a map that is completely devoid of any detail. Yet, neighboring Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and even Turkey all have cities and roads noted.

And indeed, if you click on the link, Israel is devoid of any details, unlike the surrounding countries. However, in the upper right hand corner you'll see a box divided into three sections with links to Map, Satellite and Hybrid. If you choose the latter two you can get some details. but if you zoom in too close you get the following message "We are sorry but we don't have at this zoom level for this region." (Whoops, in other cases it looks like you can zoom in all the way.)

So it does appear that for some reason, Google is blocking some but not all detailed information on Israel.

However, at Seraphic Secret a commenter noted that Google Earth still has the detailed information that could be (and was) used by terrorists.

I suspect that what's going on here is that Google has woken up and realized that they are exposing themselves to legal liability by making that level of detail available on the Internet. I think a US court would be more than willing to hear a lawsuit from a resident of Sderot - for example - claiming that Google recklessly endangered him by posting tools on the Internet that would allow 'Palestinian' terrorists to target his home. Especially now that everyone knows that the 'Palestinians' are using Google Earth.

Also, as you might suspect, Google has operations here in Israel, and this kind of news does not help them to recruit Israeli employees, but it does give a reason for the Israeli security authorities to pressure Google to make the information disappear.


At 6:28 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Even if Google prevents closer inspection of details that are available through the satellite or hybrid modes, the problem is that Google Earth is downloaded. So even if Google fixes later versions of Google earth, earlier versions will still be extant.

(Of course if Gaza doesn't have electricity or gasoline to run generators it wouldn't be possible to use Google anything for targeting purposes. Apparently that didn't occur to AG Mazuz.)


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