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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 18:32 GMT
Google Earth prompts Indian fears
Manchester airport, Digital Globe/Google
Google Earth peeps into every corner of the planet
Google is in talks with India about sensitive sites viewable via the Google Earth service.

Citing security worries the Indian government has asked Google to reduce the detail in a selection of images.

The government is drawing up a list of places it considers sensitive, which is expected to include military bases and government buildings.

Many other areas in Google Earth have been blurred by governments keen to stop people seeing sensitive sites.

The talks about blurring some locations viewable via Google Earth came out of a meeting between science and technology ministers from the Indian government and the search firm.

In a report in the Times of India, the Indian government said that detailed plans of buildings and accurate maps could prove a boon to extremists. India's fears were first aired in 2005 - soon after the service launched.

In a statement the search giant said: "Google has been talking and will continue to talk to the Indian government about any security concerns it may have regarding Google Earth.

"We are pleased to have initiated dialogue with the Indian government, the discussions have been substantive and constructive, but no agreements have been made."

It added: "We have committed to continue the dialogue".

The images used to create Google Earth are often taken by governments and other agencies which often blur or censor what can be seen. Sites obscured in this way have included nuclear power plants, official buildings and the offices of security services.

In "exceptional" circumstances Google said it too would blur images making up the virtual Earth.

This has prompted many people to scour Google's virtual Earth looking for the places where this blurring has occurred.

As its name implies Google Earth is a downloadable program that gives users access to a database of satellite photographs that have been stitched together to form a vast composite image of the planet. Image resolutions vary from 15m to 15cm.

Google has also started annotating parts of some images with 3D representations of important buildings and places.




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