Google, British military discuss Google Earth use in attacks

Google is talking with military agencies in Iraq after learning that terrorists attacking British bases in Basra appear to have been using aerial footage from Google Earth to pinpoint strikes, according to the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph.

Among documents seized in raids on insurgents' homes were printouts from photos taken from Google Earth that show the location of buildings, tents, latrines and lightly armored vehicles, the news site reported. On the back of one set of photos, someone had written the precise longitude and latitude of the Shatt Al Arab Hotel, where 1,000 Staffordshire Regiment soldiers are headquartered, the report said.

"This is evidence, as far as we are concerned, for planning terrorist attacks," said an intelligence officer with the Royal Green Jackets battle group. "We believe they use Google Earth to identify the most vulnerable areas, such as tents."

A Google spokesman said the satellite mapping information could be used for "good and bad" and can be accessed via numerous means. "Of course we are always ready to listen to governments' requests," he said. "We have opened channels with the military in Iraq, but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them. But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests."

Royal Green Jackets soldiers based at Basra Palace base said they would consider suing Google if they were injured in any attacks in which Google Earth aerial shots were used.

Tech Culture
About the author

Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor.


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