Saturday, March 27, 2010

Secret Services Annoyed at Google

Google has annoyed the UK government because it inadvertently “outed” a secret British SAS base.

The British Special Air Service is the British Special Forces unit tasked primarily with intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence. According to an article in the British Daily Mail online, the SAS has managed to keep its base off maps until now.

Although most people in the region know the base is there, no real detail has ever appeared before in published material. Now, it appears the techies at Google have screwed it all up. Google’s camera cars managed to take a peek at it, and members of the British military and parliament are quite surprised that Google would get pictures of their most secret locations.

I was able to verify that something labeled “XXXXXXXXX XXXX” (redacted) was searchable on both Google Earth and Google Maps. Since I know better than to mess with counter-terrorism professionals, that’s information I’m not going to tell you how to find. What the pictures would have shown — had I not blurred them out so you can’t read them — would have been what’s marked as the base entrance.

You could even see a full overhead view (also blurred, for your protection):

Google’s press relations team wanted to comment on this situation:

“Google Street View is made up of images taken from public roads and so it’s to be expected that buildings that anyone can see walking down the street may appear. Our drivers are trained not to take photographs where this is prohibited by law, but if mistakes are made we will act quickly to remove the images.

We’re unaware of any official concerns being raised about security, but are of course happy to discuss any issues if they arise. We also provide an easily accessible “report a problem” tool on Street View that allows members of the public to ask for their house or their car to be removed from the service if they wish.”

In other words, everything is fine and Google’s cars are doing what they’re supposed to do. --And if you don’t like it, Google will disappear you (or at least the images of your property) upon request.

Note to Self: I wonder of our intelligence types are paying attention to this goof....???

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