Banning online satellite imagery services to combat terrorism

This article originally appeared on my blog I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

PIL has been filed against providing free online satellite imagery in India. I really do not understand how this is going to help without beefing up security on the ground. A few points for your consideration:

1. How many such services will you ban? Google Earth is perhaps the most famous. Besides, these are embedded in several websites which can be used to get the information wanted. Besides that such services are provided by WikimapiaYahoo! and Microsoft. Have a great time blocking all these sites.

2. If you ban it in India, can’t they access it from any other country? As far as media reports go, terrorists weren’t trained in India, so I’m pretty sure they won’t access the internet from here. They can easily access the site from another country, take a print out and do what they came here to do, while people who use such services are major losers.

3. Google Earth has been used not only by researchers and scientists but also in class rooms and communities to fight several issues against the Government.

4. All publicly released satellite imagery generally tend to be 1-4 years old. Is that really useful? The maps for my place look totally different today than as seen on Google Maps/Earth.

5. If such services are so useful to terrorists, why hasn’t the Police taken steps to use them for their benefit. (I know this is not really a valid point for or against the ban, but merely a thought that came to me as I typed this)

Technology is always a double edged sword that can cut either way. These are most of the objections I can immediately think of for not banning services such as Google Earth. If you can think of others, please do leave them in the comments. Thanks