US: The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, US, used imagery from Google Earth (GE) to conclude that India may be constructing a gas centrifuge plant for uranium enrichment for military purposes. The ISIS is a nonprofit organisation, focused on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. The research published by ISIS senior analyst Paul Brannan had four clear images, said to be of India’s Rare Materials Plant, which were credited to GE.
This study reinforced fears that GE can be misused to compromise national security. The GE imagery is built from information that is available from a broad range of both commercial and public sources, according to a Google spokeswoman. “The same information is available to anyone who buys it from these widely-available public sources”.
“In occasional instances in which we get requests to blur portions of our imagery for national security purposes, we are open to reviewing those requests in partnership with local governments,” the spokeswoman added.
In 2005, India’s former president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam , criticised Google Earth and other online satellite mapping services for exposing sensitive installations in developing countries to terrorists.
The Indian authorities have been concerned about any collection of imagery by online service providers like Google. The Internet giant’s attempt to collect imagery in Bangalore for its Street View was blocked in June by the local police.
The terrorists that attacked various locations in south Mumbai in 2008 used digital maps from Google Earth to learn their way around, officials investigating the attacks said at the time.