Terrorist organizations are becoming more powerful everyday with the aid of computer technology and the help of the internet. One type of technology is a virtual globe that depicts geographical information and high resolution photographs of nearly every location on earth. One virtual globe that gains a lot of attention because of its wide access is Google Earth. Since Google Earth is known for having some of the best publicly available geographic imagery, allegations have been made by National Governments that terrorist organizations have used this technology to make attacks around the world. These allegations are generally made on a theoretical basis, since it is difficult to pinpoint terrorist attacks which Google Earth played a direct role in. This fact leads people to believe that Google Earth may be a tool for terrorism, but has low implications on actual terrorist acts.
These allegations that governments have created concerning Google are understandable. Although we should ask, how much truth is behind them? There is very circumstantial evidence that fully connects Google Earth to terrorist activities, which leads to what implications Google’s virtual globe program really has on national security. John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Stated that “the fact that the enemy is fascinated by such imagery does not demonstrate that they have gained some advantage from it” (Hearn, 2007). Mr. Pike restates the idea that yes, Google Earth is available to these groups, but how they use it in pursuing terrorist movements is a different matter.
By using inconclusive evidence that doesn’t exactly correlate Google Earth technology and terrorist organizations; we can still come up with a plan to prevent certain images from getting into the hands of the wrong people. Certain steps have already been taken to protect important areas such as blurring the White House (Hearn, 2007). It is said that a protocol that helps deter terrorism is the lack of exact date on each photograph shown on Google Earth. This alone makes it very difficult for groups to gain accurate information on important sites. Another form of cover-up that certain governments could implement would be national restrictions on satellite imagery. Already in China certain social networking sites, such as Facebook, are banned. Who is to say that they couldn’t create a law in the next month putting restrictions on Google’s images? As much as Google is a large company globally, foreign governments are going to have to create legislation that protects their nation’s best interests.
Many allegations surrounding Google Earth and terrorist activities have lead people to believe that satellite imagery on this virtual globe is too accessible. Governments have argued against it and lost, while certain precautions have been taken to blur some important areas. The fact of the matter is that the evidence of Google’s link to terrorist activities is inconclusive at best.
Google Earth (2011). Retrieved from www.googleearth.com
Hearn, K. (2007, March 12). Terrorist Use of Google Earth Raises Security Fears. National Geographic News. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070312-google-censor.html