Google has brushed aside consumers’ complaints about its lack of transparency surrounding what personal data it collects (including users’ location) and how it monetizes that data. And apparently, the company is subjecting foreign governments to the same treatment.
As Reuters reported Friday, Google’s steadfast refusals to blur satellite images of sensitive military sites has provoked the Belgian defense ministry into suing the US tech giant and Alphabet subsidiary. This despite the fact that Google has complied with similar requests from other governments pertaining to the exposure of sensitive sites via its Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Street View. For example, the company has blurred French sites.
“The Ministry of Defence will sue Google,” the spokeswoman said, without giving further details.
In response to the lawsuit threats, Google claimed that it has been working with the Belgian government for more than two years to address sensitive sites that have been flagged. Though this dubious claim begs the question: How long does it really take to blur out a few military bases on Google maps?
“It’s a shame the Belgium Department of Defense have decided to take this decision,” said Michiel Sallaets, a spokesman for Google in Belgium.
“We have been working closely with them for more than two years, making changes to our maps where asked and legal.”
As RT points out, these unblurred targets could make it easier for terrorists to carry out attacks against key infrastructure. Some of the bases that can be viewed in granular detail host US Air Force assets, as well as US nuclear weapons.
“…The military fears that the unblurred maps would make things easier for terrorists planning attacks on the sites. For example, Kleine Brogel Air Base was among the planned targets of Tunisian jihadist Nizar Trabelsi, who was associated with Al-Qaeda. The facility, which is currently home to the United States Air Force (USAF), reportedly stores US nuclear weapons and the site is clearly visible on Google Maps.”
Kleine Brogel Air Base can be seen below:
Florennes Air Base, where the US has stationed F-16 Fighting Falcons, can also be viewed easily.
A national crisis center in the heart of Brussels where the country responds to terror threats like the 2016 bombing at the Brussels airport and metro.
The plotters of the 2016 airport bombing had reportedly planned to attack Brussels nuclear power stations, which could provoke an unmitigated disaster as intense radiation is unleashed on the country’s residents.
Those sites could also be vulnerable.