Under U.S. Law Google Earth Must Block High-Resolution Images of Israel

June 12, 2011

Current Events, Israel, Media, News


I didn’t know this:

There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won’t show you: Israel.

That’s because, in 1997, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, one section of which is titled, “Prohibition on collection and release of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel.” The amendment, known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, calls for a federal agency, the NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs, to regulate the dissemination of zoomed-in images of Israel.

When asked about the regulation, a Google spokeswoman said to Mother Jones, “The images in Google Earth are sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources. We source our satellite imagery from US-based companies who are subject to US law, including the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, which limits the resolution of imagery of Israel that may be commercially distributed.”

And it’s not just Israel. The regulation also applies to the occupied territories. It’s why Human Rights Watch can’t provide detailed imagery of the Gaza Strip in its reports. Of course, this regulation cuts both ways; one also cannot see the destruction in Sderot resulting from rockets sent out of Gaza.

But in 2013, Turkey will have an operational satellite, GokTurk, that will show high resolution images of Israel.

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

View all posts by Stacy

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