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Pentagon slaps a ban on Google Street View

Military insecurity
Fri Mar 07 2008, 14:24

GOOGLE'S GONE and blown it with the Pentagon after posting photo and video footage of US military base Fort Sam, in Houston, Texas. The images reportedly showed the entry gates, barriers and buildings in great detail, including the position of the base's guards.

The captured footage of the base was for Google's new Street View service, a feature of Google maps, allowing users to see streets from ground-level, with 360-degree panoramas in 30 U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

It allows users to virtually drive down a street. But since its launch, the Street View service appears to have caused nothing but trouble, with the Search Engine giant being accused on a daily basis by the "innocent" bystanders caught in its lens, of violating their privacy. People have been caught having a pee by the side of the road, sunbathing topless, being arrested, and one unfortunate man was seen by his (soon to be ex) wife emerging from a strip club.

In the case of the Fort Sam military base, Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, chief of the US Northern Command, wrote in a statement, that the photographs –taken by a camera mounted on a vehicle sent by Google – showed "where all the guards are, how the barriers go up and down, and how to get in and out of buildings".

The Pentagon, getting its knickers in a twist, hurriedly sent out letters to all Defence Department bases and installations in the US, reminding them that people driving into military bases and videoing everything, may, just possibly, not be a very good idea for security reasons.

Google, which removed the sensitive photos at the firm behest of the Pentagon's powers that be, reckoned that it was usually against company policy "to request access to military installation for the purpose of capturing imagery in Street View" and that they had made a mistake in this case.

But that being said, Google had in fact requested permission from the base to enter and photograph it, and that permission had been granted. General Renuart's statement did not make it clear why Google had been given access to film the base in the first place. µ


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