Indian Court Wants To Ban Google Earth In The Wake Of Mumbai Attacks

from the oh-please dept

You just knew this was going to happen eventually. Pretty soon after the attacks last month in Mumbai concluded, reports started coming out about how the terrorists made use of a variety of modern technologies to plan and execute the attacks. A few reports claimed that they had used Google Earth to familiarize themselves with the locations involved in the attacks (some reports had claimed that the terrorists had never been to Mumbai and just used Google Earth -- but other reports contradicted that).

However, an Indian Court is now calling for the software to be banned saying that it "aids terrorists." Of course, so do maps or photographs of hotels, such as those placed online by the hotels themselves, but people aren't overreacting and calling for a ban of those things as well. Yes, we can understand the kneejerk reaction here, and the anger over these horrific attacks. But, banning Google Earth isn't the answer. If Google Earth weren't available, the attacks still would have happened. It's just that the planning would have been different. It's perfectly natural for people to lash out at technology used in a bad way after a tragedy, but hopefully the court won't overreact and will eventually realize the anger should be at the people who actually performed the attacks, not the tools they used.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    "The group appears to have used complex GPS systems to navigate their way to Mumbai by sea. They communicated by satellite phone, used mobile phones with several different SIM cards and may have monitored events as the siege unfolded via BlackBerry Web browsers."

    What about banning those devices?

     

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  2.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Yeah, because nobody could possibly have planned the attacks with a paper map or knowledge gained from reconnaissance trips instead!

    *sigh*

    @Chronno S. Trigger: Try to apply some intelligent thought. Just because they used those systems to plan the attacks does not mean they would not have happened if the technology wasn't available. Maybe the co-ordination wouldn't have been so precise (not necessarily a life-saver), maybe they'd have used black market military surplus instead of consumer models.

    Either way, banning those devices would stop India from competing in a lot of modern business effectively while doing nothing to stop terrorism. I know you're a familiar name around here, but I would have hoped someone apparently taking their name from a classic RPG would know how to use logical thought some of the time.

     

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  3.  
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    anonymous dude, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Oh no!
    The terrorists and the bad people used screwdrivers?
    Lets ban screwdrivers!

    They used cleaning products to make small bombs! lets ban cleaning products!

    They learned to read and write in public institutions!
    Lets ban all education

    Oh no! they were born!
    Lets ban unauthorized babies from being born!

     

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  4.  
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    Joe King, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    Serious problems with this article

    Mike, I don't know if you realized it, but there are multiple problems with this article. First off, the title is *all* wrong. It should read:
    European Tourists and American Companies fail to visit or relocate to India In The Wake Of Mumbai Attacks

    Next, replace the "anger over these horrific attacks" with "Price conscious companies". Lastly, any reference to Google earth need to be replaced with "Abdul, who goes by 'Joe King' while at work". And Vola! You got it right. A true winrar.

     

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  5.  
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    Rob, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    banning screwdrivers

    If I remember correctly, carrying a screwdriver in public *IS* banned in Australia (or the UK), unless you can demonstrate that you have an as-intended use for said screwdriver. Don't just be a regular person carrying a screwdriver in your pocket though - concealed weapon!

    People are such babies.

     

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  6.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Re:

    Sarcasm, Paul. I was pointing out that it would be incredibly stupid to ban Google Earth just because someone could use it for nefarious purposes.

    I was also pointing out that if they do ban Google Earth then they would also have to ban all tools that were used to make the attack easier. Those were just the one mentioned in the article, this could easily extend to boats.

     

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  7.  
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    Fushta, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re:

    Chronno,
    You'll have to use the "/sarcasm on" and "/sarcasm off" text for those who are sarcasmically challenged.

     

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  8.  
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    Neil (SM), Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    @Paul T.: Obvious-sarcasm detector broken? Must've been eaten by that "logical thought" half of the brain. ;)



    It looks from the article that a group is only asking the court to direct Google to blur certain sensitive areas, not to ban the software outright.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    paid for by microsoft

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:43am

    Banning blackberries

    I could just see it now. Someone gets to the lawmaker and starts talking about banning these devices-- only to be interrupted by the lawmaker's blackberry or cellphone...followed by "okay, I'll take this under...advisement".

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    Yeah, 'tis broken :( Apologies.

     

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  12.  
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    Nick, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    My god PaulT, you must have the worst sarcasm detector ever. Chronno was laying it on extremely heavy right there.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Google Maps doesn't kill people. People kill people.

     

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  14.  
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    Andy, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    Banning, blurring or whatever is not the way forward. Concealing information on the grounds that it might be misused just opens the door to any number of abuses.

    As others have suggested, taking this approach to its logical (if extreme) conclusion, will pretty much result in everything being banned!

    Frankly I find it disturbing that the "knee-jerk" reaction of governments and others to almost any problem is to call for some kind of ban or other restriction of information or freedom.

    "We have nothing to fear but fear itself".

     

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  15.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: "blurring sensitive areas"

    That's also quite stupid, and indicates very low intelligence on the part of those making the request.

    "Oh, look, we don't have to spend time working out which targets to hit -- they've highlighted them for us!"

     

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  16.  
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    TSO, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Yeah! In addition to Google Earth, they also need to ban Earth! Take that, terrorist!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    Ban boats!

    The terrorists traveled to India via boat. Ban all boats! And GPS devices and paper maps, and hand gernades -- wait those are already banned.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    How about gas stations?

    Make it a felony to ask for directions at a gas station. FTW!

     

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  19.  
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    Anon, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Wheres the opposite

    How come everytime you hear about technology being used to do evil, there are calls to ban said technology, but if technology is used for good, then that technology isn't then called out to become mandatory?

     

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  20.  
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    American Indian, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Duh?!

    Yes... because I can see how the terrorists... who planned the whole thing from PAKISTAN, would really be inconvenienced by India not being able to access Google Earth. Unless they mean to try and get Google to completely remove their maps of India entirely... and perhaps we can remove the entry of India from Encyclopedias too. Actually... let's just remove India... set a few well placed nuclear weapons and break it off the main continental mass, allowing it to become the Isle of India!

    Then... mine the water and put laser aimed, automated gun torrents around the perimeter of the island so no one can get through!

    That'll keep those terrorists out!

     

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  21.  
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    NullBull, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    Modern technology to blame

    You know what other modern technology the terrorists used? 2 pieces of technology that they could not have done without? Guns and explosives.

    But let's ban Google Earth, because that's dangerous.

     

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  22.  
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    RonCam001, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Ban the software, they said ... ?

    The court is calling to "ban the software". What software? The only software running when viewing Google Earth would be the browser and OS.
    Will the court stop at banning MS Internet Explorer, or is their definition of "software" broad enough that the OS has to go as well? This is a Linux or Mac conspiracy?

     

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  23.  
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    Yakko Warner, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Duh?!

    Don't forget to surround the island with sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

    Come on, people, do I have to think of everything? Throw me a bone, would you?

     

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  24.  
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    Phil McCraken, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Next thing you know they will want to put cough medicine behind the pharmacy counter....wait, what?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Mayor Umbria, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re:

    How can I get Google to blur my sensitive area?

     

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  26.  
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    Leslie, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Google Earth

    Wouldn't it be ironice if the development team for Google Earth were located in India?

     

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  27.  
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    Mojo, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Cell phones are probably the #1 tool used by terrorists - it allows them to plan and execute their schemes with much greater ease, and it seems that the vast majority of bombs are triggered via cell phone.

    So banning cell phones (or knocking down all the cell towers) would hurt the terrorists MUCH more.

    But we know that will never happen, so there really is no point to banning ANY technology.

     

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  28.  
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    GaraBato, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Ban the software, they said ... ?

    Google Earth *is* software. It's an application that you run on your local machine to do alot more than Google Maps will allow you to do.

    So banning "the software" is, in deed, possible.

    GB

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Ban the software, they said ... ?

    Uh yeah but these people were from Pakistan. How does India banning a tool used by terrorists in another country actually protect them?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Uh...

    Shouldn't we ban bombs, guns, and knives?

    Without those, no attack would have been possible, no matter what intelligence gathering the terrorists had used.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Jon, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Modern technology to blame

    Im not sure if you are using sarcasm here, (its not as obvious as other posts)...but do you really think banning guns will stop terrorists?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Jon, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Uh...

    No attack would have been possible?
    Did you know that India has some of the strictest gun laws in the world?

    Do you think the terrorists had licenses for the weapons they used?

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Omali, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 5:59pm

    Ban births

    All murders and problems in the world can be traced back to one common situation: birth.

    Therefore, I propose we not only legalize abortions, but make them mandatory for all pregnant women. We must think of the children!!!

     

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  34.  
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    LJSeinfeld, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:26pm

    Obvious

    When they outlaw Google Earth, only outlaws will have Google Earth.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 11:49pm

    Re: Obvious

    "When they outlaw Google Earth, only outlaws will have Google Earth."
    Logic that is clearly lost to the majority of pro-gun-ban liberals out there. People who break the law... don't follow the laws that would have prevented them from breaking the law. WoW, rocket science.

     

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  36.  
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    Andy, Dec 11th, 2008 @ 2:08am

    Brilliant idea

    It has just come to me. I can't believe nobody has thought of this before.

    It was terrorists who did this, right? So...and you're gonna kick yourselves when you hear this...let's ban terrorists! There problem solved. Can't believe it was so easy. You can thank me later.

    Whaddaya mean terrorism is already illegal (=banned, right?) and yet it still happens? Some misunderstanding surely?

    Oh, I get it, so banning something and stopping bad things happen are not cause and effect. Wow, this one is tough to solve!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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