"This is evidence as far as we are concerned for planning terrorist attacks," said an intelligence officer with the Royal Green Jackets battle group. "Who would otherwise have Google Earth imagery of one of our bases?
"We are concerned that they use them to plan attacks. We have never had proof that they have deliberately targeted any area of the camp using these images but presumably they are of great use to them.
"We believe they use Google Earth to identify the most vulnerable areas such as tents."
Predictably, there has been outrage that terrorists might want to use publicly available data for reasons other than to chart demographic data for purposes.
Sarcasm/ Of course, this is Googles fault, since the Google satellite is the one taking these pictures in the first place, then releasing them publicly. And since they are the only ones using these maps, they are obviously the party responsible for mortar attacks. /sarcasm
CNet News also reported on this and, also predictably, mentioned that some of the soldiers wanted to sue Google for casualties, as well as Google claiming that they were in touch with the military and it wasn't their fault.
OK, this is just stupid. All of it.
First, the data in question is from the US and was released because it's resolution was low enough that it wasn't considered to be of military importance.
Second, the data is approximately 2 years old. If you are a soldier in a war zone and you plant a tent in the same place for 2 years, then act surprised that that enemy might know where it is, they you are just asking for it, IMO. That's just a stupid expectation. The reason wars are wars is because the guys on the other side are NOT doing what you want them to do.
Third, the fact that the Google maps are being used for planning (if indeed they are) does not mean they are being used for reconnaissance. See the point above as to why no professional soldier should rely on 2 year old data in a war zone. This is not to say they don't, but the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy based on (as the US claims but no one else in the world believes) an old map is a pretty good example of why they should not.
This is a silly reason for a story, IMO. The terrorists are probably also using local road maps printed by publishing houses, and food made from grain supplied from relief efforts, and so forth. If you looked, you could probably find someone, somewhere along the lines, that was connected to someone else that is public or that had money. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon meets "Sue everyone and sort out the receipts later".
If you want to sue someone, sue the US government for aiding and abetting terrorist actions against the UK by releasing the information on the first place. And inventing the Internet to disseminate the information, while they were at it. Now THAT would be a big story!
Hey, I said "big" story, not "smart" story, ok?