September 16, 2005
A number of countries, including South Korea, the United States, Australia and several in Europe, are upset with the new Google Earth service. This feature enables any Google user to quickly get a satellite photo of just about any area on the planet. This capability is nothing new, its been available from commercial photo satellite firms for over a decade. But what has changed with the Google offering, is that it gathers together the largest collection of satellite photos ever, and makes them very easy to get at. This is what worries counter-terrorism officials. Islamic terrorists are long on fanaticism, but short on practical skills. Anything that makes it easier for an Islamic terrorist to plan an attacks, the more likely that attack will be put together and carried out. In addition, South Korea fears that poverty stricken, but heavily armed, North Korea, could use Google Earth to more effectively plan military operations against them.
This is another example of how change, seemingly for the better, often has a downside. Google Earth is very useful to a lot of people. But it can, obviously, assist those up to no good. The same can be said for the telegraph (invented 160 years ago), the telephone (130 years ago), radio (100 years ago), and personal computers (30 years ago.) Youve got to take the good with the bad. Google Earth, and similar services, are not going away because they make counter-terrorism experts nervous.