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Google Earth addresses Indian terrorist threat

Fuzzy, low-resolution images to be used

Google is in talks with the Indian government to allay concerns that Google Earth may be jeopardising India's security by showing high-resolution images of Indian defence and other installations.

"We were pleased to have the dialogue, which was substantive and constructive but no agreements have been made," said a spokeswoman for Google India.

A report in The Times of India yesterday said that Google and the Indian government had arrived at an agreement to show "fuzzy, low-resolution pictures and distorted building plans" of installations that the Indian government considers sensitive.

The Indian government has often expressed concern that the information provided on Google Earth could be misused by terrorists and India's enemies. The easy availability online of detailed maps of countries from services such as Google Earth can be misused by terrorists, India's President, APJ Abdul Kalam said as early as 2005. This follows similar concerns from British Army intelligence that terrorists were using Google Earth to pinpoint the location of troops in Basra.

Some of the developing countries, which are already in danger of terrorist attacks, have been singularly chosen to provide such high resolutions maps, Kalam said.

Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo are strengthening their presence in India ahead of an anticipated boom in online users in the country. Google offers search in Indian languages, and recently launched its Google AdWords advertising programme in the country. It also does R&D (research and development) from India.

Google' Orkut social-networking site has however come in for criticism and even litigation from groups in India that have objected to criticism on Orkut of India and Indian historic figures.

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