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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Google Earth agrees to blur pix of key Indian sites

President APJ Abdul Kalam's concerns over Google Earth providing detailed and unhindered view of ‘sensitive' Indian establishments have been addressed, courtesy a formula which allows users uninterrupted access to the ‘eye in the sky' while camouflaging key installations.

At a recent meeting between ministry of science and technology officials and Google Earth representatives, it was decided that installations identified by government would be carefully camouflaged. This, it was felt, was better than an outright blackout. Apart from well-known sites like BARC, there are many less prominent ones, and blacking them out would only attract attention to their locations.

Images of these locations will not be of more than 25-50 metre resolution, more like the older generation pictures provided by Indian Remote Sensing satellites. Official sources said Google Earth would distort building plans by adding structures where none existed or masking certain aspects of a facility. This could be done without attracting attention to such establishments, which range from laboratories, mines, military sites, space and atomic centres and residences of high-profile VVIPs.

The government list of such sites would be accepted by Google Earth. The controversy over Google Earth's images had gained momentum after Kalam, in October last year, expressed concern that unrestricted pictures on the web could have worrisome security implications.

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