India warns: Google terror threat

Discussion in 'ten-forward' started by Smokey, Oct 16, 2005.

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  1. Smokey

    Smokey Registered Member

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    Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam expressed concern Saturday about a free mapping program from Google Inc., warning it could help terrorists by providing satellite photos of potential targets.

    Google Earth, an Internet site launched in June this year, allows users to access overlapping satellite photos.

    Although not all areas are highly detailed, some images are very high resolution, and some show sensitive locations in various countries.

    At a meeting of top police officials in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Kalam said he worried that "developing countries, which are already in danger of terrorist attacks, have been singularly chosen" for providing high resolution images of their sites.

    The governments of South Korea and Thailand and lawmakers in the Netherlands have expressed similar concerns.

    South Korean newspapers said Google Earth provides images of the presidential Blue House and military bases in the country, which remains technically at war with communist North Korea. The North's main nuclear facility at Yongbyon is among sites in that country displayed on the service.

    The Google site contains clear aerial photos of India's parliament building, the president's house and surrounding government offices in New Delhi. There are also some clear shots of Indian defense establishments.

    Debbie Frost, spokewoman for Mountain View, California-based Google, noted that the software uses information already available from public sources and the images displayed are about one to two years old, not shown in real time.
    "Google takes governmental concerns about Google Earth and Google Maps very seriously. Google welcomes dialogue with governments, and we will be happy to talk to Indian authorities about any concerns they may have," Frost said in an e-mail statement Saturday.

    Kalam, a scientist who guided India's missile program before becaming president, called for new laws to restrain dissemination of such material.
    He said existing laws in some countries regarding spatial observations of their territory and the United Nations' recommendations on the practice were inadequate.


    Source: AP India
     
  2. abhi_mittal

    abhi_mittal Registered Member

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    Hey...I stay in Bangalore, India which is the IT hub of India....This news article was published in national newspapers about a month back here. The reason being that Google Earth gave satellite images of the Air Force Base near Bangalore, Navy Camps etc....

    This indeed can be a security threat, given the geo-political situation in the Indian sub-continent. Ofcourse, giving out geographic info about such sensitive establishments (along with their latitudes and longitiude) will not be appreciated by any nation, even in the age of free flow of all kinds of information. If a country can get the co-ordinates of such locations, havoc can be wreaked!!!!
     
  3. Smokey

    Smokey Registered Member

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    And now it is published in an international security forum...;)

    BTW: published on CNN.Com: Saturday, October 15, 2005; Posted: 11:50 p.m. EDT (03:50 GMT):)
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2005
  4. Cochise

    Cochise A missed friend

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    I noticed that my House was on that Google doodad, so, to save any Terrorists picking me out I've blown up my own house myself....why should they have all the Fun......:D


    Cochise,:cool: Rambling in the rubble......
     
  5. mercurie

    mercurie A Friendly Creature

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    While I understand the concern. I think it is somewhat of an over concern. Perhaps I should say too, that while I have used Google Maps including the satellite. I have not seen all it can do. I am sure.

    But my thought on this, is it is not likely that anything can be gleamed from these that would assist a terror group that could not be gotten better; by someone on the inside. Remember terrorist infiltarate and become one of the population and become a "sleeper" until told to become active. While a google might help; there are areial photos all over the place.

    But what the heck the papers have to write about something interesting or they would not sell papers. Not that this is a subject that should be treated lightly either. And if government officials are concerned maybe I should be too.
     
  6. abhi_mittal

    abhi_mittal Registered Member

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    Here is the latest news story about Google Earth publishes in "The Times Of India"


    Google's googly: PoK is shown as part of Pakistan!

    Samiran Chakrawertti

    [ Friday, October 21, 2005 12:06:59 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]


    NEW DELHI: While the threat that Google Earth apparently poses to national security has been grabbing headlines, there’s another potential controversy that’s been overlooked.

    If you open the political map of the subcontinent in Google Earth, you’d find that there’s a well-defined boundary between India and Pakistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is on Pakistan’s side. Further, Aksai Chin isn’t a part of either India or China; it is a separate political entity.

    It would be interesting to see how the issue is dealt with, considering that no printed matter in India can be distributed if it contains a map of the country that does not conform to the official one.

    While this might sound like an over-reaction to a programme that’s available on the Net, there was a recent row between Taiwan and Google Earth over Taiwan being referred to as a "Province of China”. As Taiwan complained, Google Earth decided to show it as a separate country, and China has now protested.

    Interestingly, China seems to have accepted Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh being shown as part of India.

    Why is Google Earth so important? Google isn’t a way of life in India yet — India’s internet reach is a little over 2% of the population — but they aim to "organise the world’s information."

    With the world getting increasingly wired to the internet and with plans like putting entire libraries on the Net, Google might soon be the world’s foremost repository of information. With possibilities like that, governments want to make sure that they get facts about their countries 'straight.'
     
  7. yogishree

    yogishree Registered Member

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    It is interesting to note the following related observations in 'The Times of India' under the caption "Google earth under govt scrutiny"

    Yet, only last month, the armed forces had said that they had factored into their operational plans the threat of the satellite imagery of their military bases being freely available on the Net.

    One senior officer had stated that, 'One can even buy satellite imagery in the international market. If we have satellite pictures of Pakistani military bases, so do they. Modern day warfare is more about tactics, speed and deception. Moreover, satellite pictures available on the Internet are not real-time and serve no operational purpose'.

    As for frontline IAF bases, they have 'adequate protection systems' in place, with even measures to thwart hostile attempts at 'thermal imagery' through 'decoys'. Similarly, it does not matter if a satellite captures aircraft carrier INS Viraat berthed at Mumbai. 'Ships are mobile platforms here today and somewhere else tomorrow,', a Navy officer had said.
     
  8. mercurie

    mercurie A Friendly Creature

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    Good stuff. Interesting. Thanks for the posts. ;)
     
  9. yogishree

    yogishree Registered Member

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    1. Now the point is as to what an extent Google is responsible for these "mapping programs" .

    It may be noted that : Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft don’t produce the data for their maps; they buy it from other companies. But because they’re the front end, sometimes people make the assumption that it’s Google operatives running around with GPS receivers; rather, it’s companies like NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas
    http://www.mcwetboy.net/maproom/

    2. What about the possibility of doing anything to contain these perceived 'security threats' ? In this connection it is interesting to note that at a time when dozens of satellites from the US and its partners supported the American campaign against Afghanistan in 2001 , the need was felt to prevent the general public to oversee the war efforts of the allies and :

    ...the U.S. military began on October 7 paying for the exclusive rights to commercial satellite imagery of Afghanistan even though the nation's spysats were able to take far better pictures.

    To prevent the commercial firm from selling its pictures of the war zone elsewhere, the U.S. government entered into a multimillion-dollar contract with Space Imaging -- a company that sells Earth imagery and information to business, consumer and government customers.

    The federal agreement, which the company called "a wonderful business transaction," gave the Pentagon exclusive rights to all of Space Imaging's Afghanistan imagery as well as all of the time that its Ikonos-2 satellite was over the target area. Of course, having the rights doesn't mean the government actually would use the photos.

    Ikonos-2 satellite images are said to be among the best available to the public. They were added to photographs already being collected by military satellites and airplanes for the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. That agency provides combat support services to the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Payment for commercial photos comes out of a classified budget.

    Under the month-to-month contract, which started Oct. 7, 2001, the agency paid for exclusive access to Ikonos photos of the area involved in Operation Enduring Freedom, the military code name for the strikes in Afghanistan.

    Buying exclusive rights was an attempt to keep the Taliban and Osama bin Laden from knowing where the U.S. military might be looking. For instance, pictures of the Kandahar airfield on Space Imaging's Web site might offer a clue to U.S. plans.

    In other circumstances, Ikonos pictures cost buyers up to $200 per square kilometer of imagery plus an extra $3,000 for quick turnaround work. News media had been paying $500 per picture.

    http://www.spacetoday.org/Satellites/YugoWarSats.html.

    Well ...:blink: !! Well ... :blink: !! Well ... :blink: !!
     
  10. yogishree

    yogishree Registered Member

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    The following aspects appear interesting and give a better appreciation of the whole matter :

    1. The reaction of governments and especially US , when confronted with high resolution commercial satellite imagery , is recorded in some detail in this report of 1999 saying that :

    shutter control will do little to protect U.S. interests. Although the U.S. satellites will be more advanced than any of the systems currently in orbit other than spy satellites, they hardly have the field to themselves. Russia, France, Canada, and India are already providing high-resolution optical and radar imagery to customers throughout the world, and Israel, China, Brazil, South Korea, and Pakistan are all preparing to enter the commercial market. Potential customers will have many alternative sources of imagery.

    and concluding :

    The instinctive reaction of governments confronted by new information technologies to try to control them, especially when the technologies are related to power and politics. In the case of high-resolution remote-sensing satellites, however, the only practical choice is to embrace emerging transparency, take advantage of its positive effects, and learn to manage its negative consequences. No one is fully prepared for commercial high-resolution satellite imagery. The U.S. government is trying to maintain a kind of export control over a technology that has long since proliferated beyond U.S. borders. The international community agreed more than a decade ago to permit the unimpeded flow of information from satellite imagery, but that agreement may come under considerable strain as new and far more capable satellites begin to distribute their imagery publicly and widely. Humanitarian, environmental, and arms control organizations can put the imagery to good use. Governments, however, are likely to be uncomfortable with the resulting shift in power to those outside government, especially if they include terrorists. And many, many people will make mistakes, especially in the early days. Satellite imagery is hard to interpret. Junior analysts are wrong far more often than they are right.

    Despite these potential problems, on balance the new transparency is likely to do more good than harm. It will allow countries to alleviate fear and suspicion by providing credible evidence that they are not mobilizing for attack. It will help governments and others cope with growing global problems by creating comprehensive sources of information that no single government has an incentive to provide. Like any information, satellite imagery is subject to misuse and misinterpretation. But the eyes in the sky have rendered sustained secrecy impractical. And in situations short of major crisis or war, secrecy rarely works to the public benefit.


    http://www.issues.org/issues/16.1/florini.htm

    2. The U.S. firm 'Space Imaging' (founded in 1994 through the financial backing of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Raytheon Systems Company, Mitsubishi and Hyundai) has struck a deal with Antrix Corp., a division of the Indian Space Research Organization, to market and sell imagery from a number of India's Earth observation satellites commercial customers across the globe.

    http://www.spaceimaging.com/newsroom/2005_cartosat_launch.htm

    3 a)While Pentagon had paid for exclusive access to images from the Ikonos satellite owned by Space Imaging so that the inf could not be shared by others but for the Iraq war, the Pentagon had left the U.S. companies free to sell their images to all comers - except representatives from countries blacklisted by the State Department - and executives from Space Imaging are quoted as saying : "The technology is migrating from the black world of intelligence where it was shuttered for 40 years, to the white world of commerce,''

    b) It is noteworthy that 'the only off-limits spot on the planet isn't even inside the United States. In 1997, Congress blocked U.S. companies from photographing Israel at a resolution higher than 2 meters.'

    http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/satellite_pictures_030324.html

    Well it does appear that :
    The name of the game continues to be Commerce with participants being all in possession of the requisite resources.
     
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