Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Saturday, 20 March 2010

Google images of Herefordshire SAS HQ 'irresponsible'

Google Street View camera
The Google Street View Camera recorded images of the military base

Google is acting "irresponsibly" by publishing photos of the SAS headquarters near Hereford on the internet, the city's MP has claimed.

Images of the Credenhill base can be seen using the search engine's Street View software, which allows users to "walk through" many of the UK's roads.

Paul Keetch MP said he feared this would encourage a terrorist attack.

Google said it only took images from public roads and there was "no appreciable security risk".

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it would be "impractical" to ask Google to remove the images.

People using the Street View software can see a tag that says "British SAS" and zoom in on a map of what seems to be the entrance gates and adjoining road to the military camp near Hereford.

An MoD spokesman said: "The MoD cannot prevent satellites taking imagery of its establishments, however we ensure that steps are taken to protect highly sensitive equipment.

"It would be impractical to ask Google to withdraw images as they can be easily obtained from other sources over which we have no influence."

'Encourage terrorists'

Mr Keetch said he had asked Google last week to remove the images, which were published on 11 March, adding he feared they might undermine security at the base.

The Liberal Democrat MP said: "Whilst I understand the MoD point of view and am confident the base could withstand any terrorist attack, surely it is better if we can avoid that situation ever arising.

"If you are a terrorist and you can get a detailed photo of a military installation for free online, that's bound to encourage you to think maybe I can break in there.

"The question is 'is Google acting responsibly?' and I don't think they are.

"I think Google want to have their own policy of not showing military installations anywhere."

Google said it only took images from public roads.

A spokesman added: "This is no different to what anyone could see travelling down the road themselves, therefore there is no appreciable security risk.

"We're happy to discuss any concerns as they arise."

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