Pentagon demands removal of images from Google Maps

Times Square in New York, as viewed through Street View on Google Maps

Google has complied with a request from the Pentagon to remove some images from its Street Level service on Google Maps on the grounds that they could pose a security threat.

General Gene Renuart from the Homeland Defense Department said that the Pentagon had also banned Google from taking any images of or around military bases for its Street View service.

General Renuart added that the military was now looking closely at other images to ensure nothing had slipped through the net. "We've got to get a sense of what is there and see how we can mitigate it," he said.

In response, Google claimed that the images were collected in error and removed from the service as soon as the mistake had been realised:

"It is not Google policy to request access to military installations, but in this instance the operator of the vehicle with the camera on top – which is how we go about capturing imagery for Street View – requested permission to access a military installation, was given access, and after learning of the incident we quickly removed the imagery," a Google spokesperson told TechRadar this morning.

Street View

Street View is a feature of Google Maps that allows you to gain a ground-level view, as if you were actually walking down the selected street. At present the service remains limited to a number of cities and regions in the US.

TechRadar did contact the UK Ministry of Defence to ask if the UK military has ever requested for sensitive images from Google Maps to be removed, but at the time of writing we were still awaiting a reply. Given that we were easily able to zoom in on a number of UK military installations using Google Maps, we’d say probably not.

Of course, if such installations were ever to be given the Street View treatment by Google then we'd expect that to change rapidly.

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