Google Street View exposes secret Israeli base
Classified details about a secret base in the Tel Aviv area have been exposed by Google Street View, the panoramic map service launched in Israel’s three largest cities in April.
The new service allows users to see soldiers and vehicles inside the base, aggravating concerns that Google Street View could comprise Israel’s national security and provide the Jewish state’s enemies with easy access to useful information.
The service was reportedly launched in coordination with Israel’s security authorities, which asked Google to erase images from Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, home to the Defense Ministry and IDF headquarters. As a result, users of the service cannot view the street at this time. However, other secret facilities are apparently fully accessible online.
Journalist and new media consultant Yossi Dorfman revealed in his blog that a secret Tel Aviv-area base has been fully exposed by Google’s new service. The images allow users to see the guard post at the entrance to the base, several soldiers inside it, and vehicles parked in the base with their license plates clearly visible.
A veteran officer who saw the images said their availability on the Internet constitutes security damage for Israel.
“This is a first-rate screw up…much can be learned from these images, and someone in the IDF whose job it is to monitor this issue screwed up here,” the officer said.
Responding to the report, Google said that its Street View service is offered in coordination with Israel’s defense authorities and is approved by them. Faces and license plates captured by Google have been blurred using unique technology, the company said.
Israeli security standards are high, but nobody’s perfect and screwups happen. On the other hand, a setback like this is a good wakeup call to those responsible for such matters. I’m not sure how much harm has actually been done, but it’s indisputably good that it is in the public domain, as that increases the chances of the authorities paying attention and actually sorting things out for the future.