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Aug 22, 2005

Online Maps Under Fire In The Netherlands

Two members of the Dutch parliament have raised questions about Google Earth, the free mapping program from Google, suggesting it may aid would-be terrorists plot their attacks.

The service uses overlapping satellite photos from both commercial and public sources linked together to provide the user the ability to seamlessly navigate around the globe. However, since the photogrammetry is from a variety of sources, the details visible vary greatly across the globe.

The Dutch legislators expressed fears that terrorists could use the service to study government buildings or nuclear reactors. This issue raises the inherent conflict between advanced technology and the need to keep public facilities secure. Many municipalities used to have maps of their water and sewer lines available online to the public. After 9/11, many removed them from public view.

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