Google Earth MisuseADDPMP810
Google Earth is a web mapping platform and consumer application launched by American multinational technology company Google in 2005. It offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions and route planning for travelling by foot, car, bike, air (in beta) and public transportation. As of 2020, Google Earth was being used by over one billion people every month around the world. However, cases of misuse have been widely reported since its creation:
● In 2005, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) complained about the potential for terrorists to use the satellite images in planning attacks with specific reference to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor located in New South Wales; nevertheless, the Australian federal government did not support the organisation’s concerns.
● In October 2010, Nicaraguan military commander Edén Pastora stationed Nicaraguan troops on the Isla Calero in the delta of the San Juan River, justifying his actions by the border delineation given by Google Earth. Google has since updated its data which it found to be incorrect.
● On January 27 2014, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted Google Earth queries made on smartphones and used them to locate the users making these queries. One leaked document dating from 2008 stated that “[i]t effectively means that anyone using Google Earth on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”
● In May 2015, searches on Google Earth for offensive racial epithets for African Americans pointed the user to the White House; Google apologised for the incident.
● In February 2020, a Google Earth user used 99 cell phones to fake a Google Maps traffic jam.