After detailed, street-level photographs of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas appeared in Google’s controversial “Street View”, the Pentagon acted quickly to have the images removed, calling them a threat to national security. Because of this security threat, Google is no longer permitted to take pictures of military installations.
Google takes pictures of locations in cities as a part of their “Street Views” project, which gives you a street-level view of various locations. There are dozens of major U.S. cities so far included in the project, and Google is constantly out snapping photos to add to more. The photos are taken using vehicles with a camera mounted on the roof.
Gary Ross, a spokesman for the US Northern Command, said, “We don’t have any issues regarding Google and their products, but the Street View provides clear imagery of control points, barriers, headquarters, and security facilities that pose a risk to our force-protection efforts.”
Google staff apparently requested and permitted access to the Fort Sam Houston base, where they took 360-degree street-level shots. Air Force General Gene Renuart, chief of the US Northern Command, said the formal ban was issued after this incident amid concerns that allowing the imagery to appear in Street Views could provide sensitive information to potential adversaries and endanger base personnel.
Larry Yu, a spokesman for Google, said that a Google crew mistakenly asked for access to the base.
“It is against our policy to request access to military bases for the purpose of capturing imagery in Street view.”
Yu also indicated that the imagery was removed from the site within about 24 hours of being contacted by the military.