A top secret base in Taiwan, revealed on an Apple Map. The Navy SEALs’ rehearsal site for the Osama bin Laden raid, found on Bing. Once again, commercial satellites have snapped images of things that governments would rather hide from public view. And once again, those governments are finding that there’s not much they can do, once this sensitive imagery ends up online.
The big technology companies and their mapping apps have been turning generals red-faced for the better part of a decade by posting on the ‘net pictures of sensitive locations. Back in 2009, the Pakistani press blew the lid off of the U.S. drone campaign there by publishing Google Earth pictures of a local airbase — with American Predators parked on the runway. This summer, orbital images appeared online of a stealthy and previously-undisclosed robotic aircraft at Lockheed Martin’s “Skunkworks” facility.