‘Google Maps exposes 40% of military facilities’
About 40 percent of sensitive military sites in South Korea have been fully exposed to the general public through Google Maps’ satellite mode, according to ruling Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Park Kwang-on, Sunday.
The second-term lawmaker claimed regulations need to be established to ban foreign companies from indiscriminately distributing information that poses a threat to national security.
Google’s high-resolution satellite images currently expose locations of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s 11th Fighter Wing base, which holds the nation’s main aerial force of F-15Ks, and the 8th Fighter Wing base to which domestically produced advanced fighter jets have been deployed.
Rep. Park said he confirmed their exposure after receiving materials from the Ministry of National Defense, noting that he would not disclose the exact number of the nation’s military facilities as the information is classified.
Google Maps has faced consistent controversy over its satellite images of sensitive military sites here since the 2000s, but has never taken any appropriate measures, citing its “global standards,” according to Park.
National security is regarded as one of the most important issues here as the two Koreas are still technically at war.
The Information Communications Network Act prohibits the leaking of state secrets online. Locations of military facilities are considered state secrets.
But the satellite view on Google Maps offers a bird’s-eye view of those facilities including their latitude and longitude information as well as streets near the facilities, Park said.
This is in contrast to domestic IT company Naver’s method which provides mapping services but obscures military facilities.
Rep. Park said there is no way for now to restrain Google’s exposure of the nation’s military secrets as the global IT giant, which keeps its servers abroad, is not subject to domestic laws.
The lawmaker noted that Google has cited its global standards when explaining its decision not to comply with the Korean government’s request to censor its satellite images of sensitive military sites. However, the company did censor the satellite images of France’s Orange-Caritat Air Base and other overseas security facilities.
“If Google has received treatment equal to that of Korean companies, it is a matter of common sense that Google needs to perform the same duties as those of Korean firms,” Park said.
Google Maps’ satellite imagery, left, shows one of the nation’s military bases that has been blurred by Rep. Park Kwang-on’s office, while the image for the same location, right, is censored in Naver’s mapping service.