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Google Maps error leads to a military incursion

Search engine blamed for invasion
Mon Nov 08 2010, 10:19

A MISHTAKE on Google Maps is being blamed for a Nicaraguan invasion of Costa Rica last week.

Costa Rica is fuming after Nicaraguan troops crossed the border, took down a Costa Rican flag and raised the Nicaraguan flag in a Freudian display of territoriality.

The troops' commander Eden Pastora, told Costa Rica's largest newspaper La Nacion that it was not his fault, he thought the territory belonged to Nicaragua because it said so on Google Maps.

Nicaraguan government officials have also blamed a "bug in Google" for the error in a bizarre case of "the dog ate my homework" that is threatening to turn into a real war.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the secretary-general of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, has flown to the region to help resolve the conflict.

Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla barked that she was prepared to take the dispute to the UN Security Council. They are in New York so you don't really need Google Maps to get there.

She said that Costa Rica saw its dignity affronted and there is a sense of great national urgency to deal with this problem.

Google has admitted that there's an error in Google Maps' depiction of the border in part of the Caribbean coast, near the San Juan River. The area is at the centre of a dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua that arose over the latter's dredging of a river separating the two countries.

Apparently the US Department of State has provided Google with a corrected version and it is working to update its maps.

If the troops had used Bing they would have been okay. Bing's map of the region is accurate. But who looks at Bing Maps?

One has to wonder how good a country's military must be if it relies on Google for intelligence about its own territory. Particularly if the region has been contested since the mid-19th century.

And since when does an Internet search engine think it can intervene in a 160 year old border dispute? µ



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