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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Birds Eye View

Today's Wales on Sunday reports that the availability of sites such as Google Earth on the internet is leaving high security sites in Wales open to terrorist attack.

They say that detailed photographs and the coordinates of potential targets including Barry's RAF St Athan, arms manufacturers BAE Systems in Usk and civilian sites like Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, are just a click of the mouse away. In addition, using Microsoft's similar Virtual Earth programme, close-up satellite snaps of Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey and oil refineries in Milford Haven can be accessed easily. The Welsh Assembly is safe for now however, as according to this image downloaded today, the Senedd has not been built yet.

Fear not, the authorities are not worried. The Ministry of Defence are well used to hiding their most sensitive equipment from spy satellites. They told the paper that they are unable to prevent satellite photos being taken, especially by foreign nations. They agreed the internet was impossible to police but added that blurring property out could imply they had something worth hiding there.

A spokesman said: "All we can do is take proactive steps to protect highly sensitive equipment by putting it away in hangars.

"Anywhere with satellite technology, be that the US, Russia, China or wherever, has the capability to go anywhere and take satellite photos, and those can go anywhere on the net and there is nothing we can do.

"It's a bit like having four stable doors. You can close one but three are, unfortunately, always going to be open.

"One could say there is potentially an issue because these sites show how open we are in terms of sensitive military hardware or buildings."

He said dummy hardware could be left visible to confuse an enemy harbouring sinister plans.

A Google spokeswoman is also keen to put our minds at rest. She said: "All the information on Google Earth about military bases is available from other sources. With many of these sites it is possible to drive by them and many things can be seen by people just going about their business.

"We do not believe Google Earth represents a security risk. The majority of people using Google Earth do so to look at things going on in the environment."

So that is OK then.
Try and zoom in on the Faslane Naval Base in Scotland...you'll find its blanked out..
When I used Google Earth on our old house in Colorado, I saw our old green car parked in front of it.

The only problem with that is we moved out of there in 2002. I think the pictures are usually a couple of years old.
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