Today, Ogle Earth has posted an excellent article on images from Google Earth that have gone missing. The imagery is of an area in Pakistan. Apparently Dianne Feinstein commented that the US military has been using a base in Pakistan for the staging and deployment of unmanned drones. This comment precipitated a chain reaction of reissued statements and denials. The images in question showed aircraft similar to those of the Predator drones. This image has since been removed from Google Earth and DigitalGlobe.
Ogle Earth sums up the issue quite well:
Did both Google and DigitalGlobe separately receive a request from a government (presumably the US, but possibly Pakistan) to remove this imagery from public scrutiny, and comply, or is there a contractual obligation/legal obligation on the part of Google to remove imagery from Google Earth if DigitalGlobe removes it from its product list? Did DigitalGlobe make a mistake in publishing the 2006 imagery available in the first place, considering that the US military has “shutter control” of the satellite’s cameras? Or perhaps (and I’m merely speculating), since the Predator drone operations are run by the CIA and not the US military, were shutter control orders somehow not properly relayed via the usual channels?
I’d love to find out exactly why the images were pulled. Once they’ve made the rounds, it’s almost pointless to remove them. Haven’t we learned from the Streisand Effect?