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Satellite Photos of Korea’s Security Facilities on the Net

Satellite Photos of Korea’s Security Facilities on the Net

Posted August. 31, 2005 06:49,   


Satellite photos of major security facilities in Korea, including Cheong Wa Dae and the bases of the U.S. Forces Korea, are posted on the Google website, the famous U.S. Internet search engine.

Concerns are being raised that Korea’s national security has loopholes as several clicks by any person can show photos, building locations, and roads in detail.

According to the Internet business community on August 30, the portal website Google has been running pilot services providing worldwide satellite and aerial photo maps since June this year at earth.google.com.

The website can exactly introduce the locations of Cheong Wa Dae, major military bases, and major buildings and roads in the downtown area of Seoul, with some buildings shown in three dimension.

If you search “Pearl Harbor” of the U.S., you can see war vessels of the U.S. Navy anchored there and an enlarged version can also help identify facilities, roads and routes, albeit with a lower resolution.

Google began introducing this service since acquiring Keyhole, a manufacturer of digital maps in satellite and aerial photos, last October.

However, critics say such information could be utilized as basic material for foreign terrorist organizations trying to attack Korea.

The Ministry of Defense said, “The National Intelligence Service (NIS) will make specific judgments, but the satellite photos of Cheong Wa Dae and military bases released on the website ‘Google Earth’ might violate domestic security laws,” adding, “However, there is no way to regulate it with domestic laws as it is a foreign website in which the pictures are taken by foreign commercial satellites.”

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo said, “As of now, there is no means to regulate a foreign commercial satellite Internet service not subject to domestic laws,” adding, “The National Security Council is striving to find ways by cooperating with the related agencies of the U.S.”

The NIS is said to have requested Google for cooperation in providing the service lest any problems with national security would occur.

On this, Google’s Korean branch said, “Replies would be made after consultations with the U.S. headquarters.”