Google Earth and Israel, cont.

If you want proof of the harm irresponsible reporting can do, look no further than how the factual errors in the article in Globes about Israel and Google Earth (blogged two days ago) have metastatized into the belief that “Google Earth caves in to Israel”. Yes, the blog Battleangel takes [(updated) the mangled IsraelNN version of the article] at face value, adds a pinch of presuppositions, and arrives at that conclusion.

So, for the record, Israel isn’t strongarming Google, from the available evidence. Yes, it is indeed remarkable that a US law constrains US satellite operators on images of a sovereign state other than the US (and not for all US allies, but just one state), but if you want to complain, the proper target is the US congress and the executive, not Google.

If you want to accuse Google of being strongarmed by a state when it comes to satellite imagery (be it China, India, South Korea, or Israel), kindly provide some evidence first.

[Update 12:45 UTC: Another example of this meme spreading.]

[Update 12:49 UTC: IsraelNN manages to mangle the original news story even more. This version is truly remarkable.]

5 thoughts on “Google Earth and Israel, cont.”

  1. You seem to agree with Battleangel that it would be a bad thing if Israel were protected from the highest resolutions. Is there any cause to worry that Google Earth might be used as Google Case-the-Joint? There are, after all, terrorist groups actively planning and carrying out operations in Israel.

  2. Is it not Google’s mission to present information as is? If so, then it is it’s responsability to find other sources and supply high-res images of Israel. And btw, being Israeli, I can tell you terrorist groups have high res images of all Israel and with all due respect to GE, don’t really need it. Israel and especially the security sensitive points are changing so fast that GE’s slow updating high-res images wouldn’t be too usefull for terror groups, maybe even the other way round.

  3. A “mission to present information”? I would say they have a legitimate interest in making money though presenting information and perhaps some responsibility for thinking about the uses to which it will be put. Your point that terrorist groups already have high resolution images is interesting.

  4. Yitzchak, should we legislate against sharp knives, also for cooking and surgery? Should computers be limited to 1GHz lest some users decide to use them to calculate missile trajectories? Should we ban postcards of Jerusalem? Mobile phones are used as remote detonators, and have thus done far more actual harm than the potential harm Google Earth has yet to do – why not ban mobile phones? How, indeed, is Google Earth a better terrorist tool than an accurate map, notes from operatives on the ground, or the much higher resolution imagery available to states like Iran who are sympathetic to terrorist causes?

    Google Earth is a technology and a tool, like a knife or a car or a computer. Far more people use these items for their own peaceful ends than people who use them to do harm. Google Earth is not a curiosity without real use – it’s the next generation browser, and it has already proven its humanitarian worth with Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan Quake.

  5. . . . should we legislate against sharp knives, also for cooking and surgery?

    I didn’t mean to come across as the Luddite in this comment thread, but I think the point I made before is defensible that the possible misuses of a new tool warrant some consideration. And I think

    I have left room to argue that the benefits of Google Earth make it worthwhile, especially if the terrorists already have similar tools at their disposal anyway.

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