back to article Indian court urged to 'ban Google Earth'

Legal advocates have petitioned an Indian court to ban Google Earth following intelligence indicating the satellite imaging site was used to plan last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people. Advocate Amit Karkhanis told India's High Court the free service "aids terrorists in plotting attacks" by providing …


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  1. Dazed and Confused

    India has always been sensitive about maps

    I remember one of our school teachers are a keen mountineer. When he was planning a trip to a virgin area of the Hindu Kush he tried to get copies of maps only be be told they were state secrets. He was then able to go the US embassy in London and get their assistance in aquiring satalite photos of the area he wanted to visit. He ask for two copies of the all the pictures. He then went back to the Indian embassy and offered to trade a set of satalite pictures for a set of maps. They gave him the maps.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they better ban

    Maps - because they help terrorists find stuff on the ground, and ways around town.

    The Yellow Pages - because they list hotels and their addresses that terrorists can use to choose their targets

    Compasses - they show terrorists what direction they are going

  3. Tim Roberts
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah Right!

    While you're at it ban GPS, mobile phones, maps, cars and any other tool the terrorists might have used. Better still ban more than two people in a group - schools, churches, business lunches, picnics.......

    Paris 'cos ......

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Ban food too

    Food was used by the terrorists. So was air. And clothes. And water. And cars. Ban them all, I say! Won't somebody think of the Children???

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Stupidity ....

    Are they going to ban tourist maps and city guides too then ?

    They can be used to familiarize yourself with a remote city, possibly for terrorist attacks, too ....


    AC & Black Helicopter, for obvious reasons ....

  6. SoltanGris

    Must not stop there

    While they are at it:

    They should also ban small boats and the motors that propel them.

    Ban all mobile phone devices because they can be used by the terrorists to communicate

    over vast distances.

    Ban backpacks as they can be used to hide weapons that terrorists can use.

    Ban tennis shoes as they can make it so terrorists run fast and are extra nimble.

    Ban all cameras so that terrorists can not photo document any areas they are thinking of terrorizing.

    Ban panty hose so terrorists can't be stealthy as they conduct their terror campaign.

    Ban pens , pencils and writing paper.

    I'm sure they will get around to some of that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not...

    ...make terrorism legal?

    Would solve a lot of problems.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps coughing up some money so that two indian soldiers don't have to share a single 70 year old .303 lee enfield rifle when facing two terroists with AK47s might be better.

    Bloody brave soldiers, bloody stupid politicians.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't have prevented it

    I had a feeling that Google Earth when it was released would be used in this way.

    However, it's too useful to be banned.

    And anyway, not having Google Earth would not have prevented the attacks, the terrorists are determined enough to die for their cause, I'm quite sure that in the absence of satellite photos they'd just have done one more reconnaissance trip around the area, which they'd have to have done - and indeed did do - anyway.

    All Google Earth did was make their job just a bit easier.

  10. Alan Esworthy


    One of the eyewitnesses told of armed police refusing to engage the attackers. Instead, the police hid or ran away.

    We are told by police, teachers, government in all forms, and punditry galore that we ought not to have general ownership of firearms because we need to leave the use of force to the trained professionals.

    Screw that. When the trained professionals piss themselves and run away that argument evaporates. The only people in a position to stop madmen such as those in Mumbai are those who are right there at the time, but only if they have guns as well.

    I was tempted to post this as A.C. but that just won't do this time. I firmly believe what I've said and am not at all afraid to say so under my real name.

  11. Vin

    We still haven't gone far enough

    Since the terrorists were alive, we need to ban being alive. It's the only way we can ensure the safety of our... Well, I can't say future at this point, can I?

    It'll still stop those terrorists from exploiting being alive! >:[

    Mine's the one with the cyanide-based terrorism prevention capsules.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Indian court urged to 'ban Reading & Writing'

    Legal advocates have petitioned an Indian court to ban the skills of reading & writing following intelligence indicating that reading & writing were used to plan last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people.

    Advocate Amit Karkhanis told India's High Court that the skills of reading & writing "aids terrorists in plotting attacks" by providing detailed information used to acquaint radical militants with their targets. He asked that Libraries, Newspapers, and all Shop & Street Signs be blurred of painted over in all areas in the country while the case proceeds....

    Apparently, India is trying for the Guiness Book of World Records "Most Stupid Authorities" title.

  13. Shades

    No need to ban all of the above...

    ...just ban people from thinking (I'm sure can help with that one!)

  14. IR

    You've all missed the most obvious

    Just blind everyone who wants to enter the area, so they can't see anything that could be a potential target

  15. John Colby

    Legal Advocates

    In the aftermath, it seems that it's the lawyers that are saying this. Does money come into this as lawyers are involved? Or is that only in the UK and the US?

    Mine's the one with "cynic" on the back.

  16. filey
    Thumb Up

    banning works?

    If banning stuff works so well to defeat terrorism, just ban guns and terrorism

  17. sreekHi

    Ignorant stupids

    I was just wondering how stupid are some of your readersThey dont understand the gravity of the situation and doesnt realy know what difference it can make with an arial view of strategic places ending up in wrong hands.The first thing shoud be banned is not the gadgets,but the holy mouths of your idiotic readers for being ridiculously miopic.


  18. Robert Brockway


    The bad guys will just Google Earth from outside India, or *shock* *horror* use a VPN from within India. We really need people with a clue to be in decision making roles.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Descent into

    The once great and free societies of the world have turned (or are busy turning) themselves into heavily policed states, the likes of which millions died fighting against during World War 2. I sometimes feel like I'm in a bad movie.

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Ben Franklin

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Guns ?

    Let's ban maps, GPS, mobile phones but not guns, grenades, light machine guns, etc.

    Their use was purely coincidental and circumstancial and have nothing to do with what happened

  21. David

    Law abiding terrorists

    Yeah because terrorists are known for following the law.

  22. JK

    Stating the obvious...

    ... namely, that it's pretty stupid.

    And if they were really trained in Pakistan, then they'd just use Pakistani ISPs to access Google Earth.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    Cant they just ban life since you...or you....or you could be a terrorist. No not me though, im a politician

  24. Richard Porter
    Gates Horns

    If the terrorists came from Pakistan...

    what good will banning Google Earth in India do?

  25. Daniel Garcia


    sir, you fail. we understand the situation is hard, but it not excuse for plain stupidity. that image can be adquired outside of india regardless what your parlament/court will say. it is backward idea to ban anything on internet... proves ingnorance of our times.

  26. John O'Hare
    Thumb Up

    @sreekHi Ignorant stupids

    " I was just wondering how stupid are some of your readersThey dont understand the gravity of the situation and doesnt realy know what difference it can make with an arial view of strategic places ending up in wrong hands.The first thing shoud be banned is not the gadgets,but the holy mouths of your idiotic readers for being ridiculously miopic."

    Well for blaming others to be nearsighted (myopic), you might want to learn how to use punctuation and proper spelling first. As others have pointed out, there are lots of other ways to get an aerial view (like maps).

    Yes, we 'shoud' ban free speech (and definitely holy mouths), thank you for pointing that out. While we're doing that, we might also want to ban coherent thought, punctuation and tolerance as well.

    " Thanks"

    You're welcome.

  27. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    The only thing really worth banning is...


    That's whats behind all this malarkey anyway.

    All gods please report to the scrap-heap.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is just like Footloose

    they will just go over the state lines, and pick up their maps there, and then the police will meet them on the border in a school bus, no wait that was Porkies.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton have form here

    At one point the Indian government banned the whole of yahoo groups (not a great loss, granted) on the basis that some were being used to discuss potential terrorist naughtiness. The main culprits, IIRC, were SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), part of which I believe later morphed into the Indian/Deccan/visiting Pakistani Mujeheddin connected to the Bombay attacks. They obviously signed up to MySpace instead.

    Google earth isn't the problem anyway, the ISI is. The sooner India launches a successful takeover bid for Pakistan, the better.


    oh don't be so bloody shrill.

    Paris, cos even she knows religion is for pillocks

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    F*wits. The same logic applies to banning rocks - rocks have hurt a lot more people than google earth.

    @Moss Icely Spaceport

    >The only thing really worth banning is... ..religion

    Absolutely spot on. Religion is one of the (surprisingly few) things that makes people pick up the rocks. The world would be a better place without it.

  32. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    @Alan Esworthy

    Yes yes, I to am for carrying-guns-on-my-person-just-in-case-there-is-a-terrorist-attack-near-me-and-just-in-case-the-professionals-piss-themselves-and-run-away-so-I-can-be-a-hero-and-shoot-them-terrorists-myself. Yes, definately a good reason for us all to carry guns. Will come in handy.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ Alan Esworthy

    You're kidding right?

    I have no problem with poking fun at Adv.Karkhanis and his ilk for all the reasons already discussed.

    I also have no problem with you choosing a tragedy of this magnitude as a platform for your gun ownership views. Bad timing, I would be tempted to say, but it's your opinion and you have a right to it.

    (Let's leave aside the fact the US, where most gun rights advocates hail from, has more urban gun crime and related fatalities than the rest of the world put together, yet there is no known occurrence of civilian gun ownership having thwarted a terrorist attack)

    But claiming that Indian law enforcement refused to engage? Do you have any facts at all, or are "one eyewitness told" type anonymous references the best you can do? Do you have any idea how offensive (and ignorant) you sound to someone like me, an Indian who knew one of the cops who died fighting?

    There's a lot of questions we're asking ourselves.

    Like why it took the authorities 8 plus hours to send out commandos from the Navy and the National Security Guard who're trained for precisely this kind of situation.

    Like why city police forces don't have the resources to raise elite commando forces of their own.

    Like why, as one of the other readers pointed out, city policemen still have antiquated equipment like .303 rifles.

    Like why questions are being asked if a batch of bullet proof jackets was in service even after failing tests (and what kind of human being would strike a corrupt deal on substandard life jackets).

    Like when will the politicians finally get their heads out of their ___s and their hands out of the till and work on a real crisis response system.

    Questioning the bravery of our fighting men, though, is not one of them.

    It's sad that people choose to make a soapbox out of a tragic incident like this. It's even sadder that the loudest people on the soapbox are also the most ignorant.

  34. Brad

    If google maps is outlawwed

    Then only outlaws will have google maps

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read before commenting

    a) The government (or the judiciary) has not banned it

    b) Some fucktard has filed a Public Interest Litigation (class action in the US?) asking for it to be banned

    The Mumbai attacks give a fantastic opportunity for these wannabe politicians to get on the publicity bandwagon using patriotism and national security as their platform. Where have I seen it before?...

    The judiciary in India is usually more sensible than the executive, though I agree past performance is by no means any indicator of future performance. Hopefully, common sense will prevail when the case is heard.

    IIRC, there was an attempt to ban wi-fi devices following the earlier blasts across many cities in India as the LeT/FUD/India Mujahideen/whatever had hacked wi-fi networks to email news agencies of the blasts. I understand this proposal was shot down.


    @SreekHi - that was a load of rubbish you wrote.

    @AlanEsworthy - yes, there were eyewitness accounts of some policemen refusing to attack.

    There are also CCTV pictures of two cops sharing a .303 rifle and taking on a terrorist who has an AK-47. And throwing a chair at him.

    Separately, another cop shot at a terrorist using his .303, and missed. And got a bullet through his lung.

    Yet another cop grabbed a terrorist's AK-47, took a burst of gunfire in his abdomen and died - still clutching the terrorist's AK-47. The other cops then attacked the terrorist with their lathis (batons) and captured him alive.

    You get all sorts here and it would not be fair to stereotype the entire force (or country) based on one or two incidents - positive or negative.

  36. Samuel K
    IT Angle

    Ban Information & Technology???

    My dear readers,

    While I respect the freedom of expression and appreciate the concern of ALL those who felt that Google earth be banned from showing "vital information", we need to think whether it is the right solution. I'm afraid it may lead to 'restriction of Information and Technology' which we need to develop more and more for a better living.

    Any way this is purely my personal opinion; which may not be correct.

  37. Justin White
    Thumb Down

    @sreekHi and stupid people

    sreekHi, you should really read what you wrote before you assume you're not standing in the middle of the glass house and throwing stones (or something like that).

    Truly, the events in Mumbai are tragic, not because of the values of the lives lost but because of the moronic motivations of those who carried out those heinous acts. I couldn't agree more about the evils of religion, although we aren't worried as much about the religion itself as much as the sadistic people leading the violent sects of these religions that twist the thoughts of their followers for their own purposes. I certainly wouldn't characterize Islam as a violent religion, nor Christianity, etc.

    The real problem in all of this is people. Until people will stop being stupid, this sort of thing will go on forever. Until we can kill all people on earth, there won't be an solution that can be legislated or enacted. People are the problem.

  38. David Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    how about this for an idea

    Instead of blurring military bases ... have them in extra high res with 3d modeling .... seriously I think most governments would rather have terrorist target a military installation than some crowded marketplace.

    And when you dealing with goverment vs government not government vs terrorist ... well those governments have their own means of getting images of the same area, only higher quality and more recent.

    Best way to defend themselves is to build a bunch of plywood guard towers, inflatable tanks, dress up manikins are foot patrols, fake anti missle systems.

    It could be fun. The nations of the world can try to come up with the scariest looking military base.

  39. James Woods

    i gotta say this

    I don't know if this is PC enough but how funny would it be for India to take this step. Listen to the article here. They are suggesting blocking google earth because it's revealing areas of India. Now this would make sense in an world where countries would remove the people from them that are the known trouble makers. Do I have to say the "M" word or can you assume what I mean? These people are coming in from all over and practically taking over countries under the guide of religion and nobody can say anything, nobody says anything, and nobody will do anything. Yeah let's block google earth while a religion is running rampid across the world.

  40. alzain



  41. Allan Dyer

    @Alan Esworthy - "solution" worse than problem

    Have you really thought this through? Terrorists invade crowded public area and start shooting people. Armed populace start shooting back. More armed populace turn up and start shooting at whoever looks the most threatening. Surviving terrorists sneak away quietly, leaving a growing firefight.

    Whether or not they ran away, at least the professionals wear a uniform, halving the identification problem. Now if we can just get the terrorists to wear a different uniform... solves all the airport screening and no-fly list problems. Come on, it is at least as workable as your proposal!

  42. Anonymous Coward

    An another thing...

    The terrorists were apparently pumped up on drugs, which was how they managed to out-maneuvre the commandos for so long without food or water.

    So we should ban drugs.

    Oh. Erm..

    I'll get me coat. ;)

  43. Dave Harris

    Another motive

    Didn't the Indian government, or and Indian tech company, recently announce plans for their own Google Earth-type app/service? Banning the original is certainly a good way of wiping out the competition in your target market.

  44. Vincent
    Gates Horns

    Such a shame

    Looks like they'll have to use now instead!

    Evil Gates because MS are helping terrorists now.

  45. Martin Lyne

    Let's not forget..

    ..guns, eyes and hands. All vital to the terrorist cause.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ban clear skies

    Google earth is able to acquire satellite images because of the lack of cloud at certain times.

    Enough billowing industry will ensure constant fog and thus thwart any space-based update of Google's images.

    However, not all Google images are from satellites. Some are from relatively low-flying aircraft. That needs a different approach.

    So my solution in summary:

    -- burn coal, lots of coal

    -- ban cameras in aircraft

    Simple, elegant, yet effective.

  47. druck Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Tourist map

    Google earth didn't give them much more than any tourist street map in locating targets and the time taken to travel between them. What was instrumental in the attack was the detailed knowledge of the buildings internal layout, which they could only have gained from on the ground reconnaissance, not google earth.

  48. Neil

    I have the solution

    SImply blind everybody at birth.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    @sreekHi - I AGREE!!!!!!11!!!one

    "They dont understand the gravity of the situation and doesnt realy know what difference it can make with an arial view of strategic places"

    Yeah, let's ban arial. Verdana is much better looking.

  50. alan
    Thumb Down

    Not read all the comments yet

    so sorry if this has been said already,

    But werent they planned from pakistan, so if india bans access to google earth all that will happen is indian people wont be able to access it, but people in pakistan and the rest of the world will be able to access it, and so see pictures of india, thus not actually preventing the problem? Or do they intend to get google to remove all images of india from the service? and if so can they do this?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Idiocy as a driving force

    Wheels, now, *they* should be banned. How many wheels were used for the trains that took people to die in Auschwitz/Birkenau or Siberia? That's a truly evil technology, that is.

    Idiots FTW...

    Good job Indians as a whole are stronger and more sensible than the bunch of wankers starting this litigation. They'll survive this, and worse, as a nation.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Tourist map

    "Google earth didn't give them much more than any tourist street map..."

    I can only assume you've never had to deal with an indian tourist map or indeed road map. Using one is the quickest way to a padded room short of putting your underpants on your head, two pencils up your nose and saying 'wibble'.

  53. Spoonguard

    Outlaw the Earth

    only way to be sure

    We begin bombing in five minutes.

  54. N

    Got it...

    Everything above plus

    If they cut off everyones index finger on the right hand, they wouldnt be able to pull the trigger on an AK would they?

    And boats, they all need sinking, just in case I missed it


  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What John O'Hare said.

    I couldn't have put it better myself, it took me back to being told off my by third form English teacher.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Ban the root cause

    "As The Times points out, investigators believe the gunmen who stormed Mumbai in late November used a wide array of high-tech gizmos to carry out their assault, including GPS systems to navigate by sea, mobile phones with multiple SIM cards, and possibly Blackberry web browsers to monitor events as they unfolded"

    Ban high-tech gizmos

    Ban GPS

    Ban Mobile phones

    Ban Blackberry

  57. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Down

    This always gets me.

    So you ban GE and everyone in India can't use it. Well the last time I checked, most criminals for that is what terrorist is still, didn't really give a monkeys about the law, hence how they got their name. So they will simply get a mate of a mate to get the info or find a way to bypass checks and get what they want.

    Guns are illegal in the UK without a license. Well that doesn't seem to stop some nutters on Manchester housing estates from blowing each other away does it?

    The driver with no license, no insurance and a stolen car is banned from driving for 3 years after he mounts pavement and injures someone! Well not having a fecking license didn't stop him before, it's unlikely to fecking stop him now, is it?!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    hmm, what is a terrorist target?

    Lets be honest, if we knew what the next terrorist target was, we'd defend it not block it on google earth. So by blocking what "we" think is a security risk, we move the danger to another location, and then we'll be removing anything else and just be left with views of fields, which will eventually be removed because someon could poisen the crops geneticly modify it etc....

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban google maps?

    So there were no terrorist attacks before it was available?

  60. V.Srikrishnan
    Thumb Up

    @AC:Read before commenting

    you said everything i wanted to.

    @sreekhi: WTF is your point?

  61. Anonymous Coward

    how about ban india from the internet

    2 things this would solve

    1. the outsourcing of our jobs

    2. They would not be aware of googlemaps in the first place!

    kill 2 birds with 1 stone

  62. mario

    Agree with ac

    any asshole can file a lawsuit. I'm surprised so many readers are too daft to know the difference.

    an indian policeman died clutching a terrorists ak-47/56, enabling the terrorist to be captured alive. how does that compare with shooting an unarmed brazilian civilian in a railway station?

    Yes, I'm indian. So find mistakes in my grammar or punctuation.

  63. Alan Esworthy
    Thumb Down

    @AC (2008-12-11 01:12 GMT)

    No, I'm not kidding.

    1. If the magnitude of this tragedy might have been reduced by firearms in the hands of private people then now is the perfect time and the Mumbai attack the perfect platform to make my point.

    2. A world-renowned advocate of private ownership of firearms was, in fact, an Indian: Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi. "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." See Gandhi, An Autobiography, p. 446 (Beacon Press paperback edition)

    3. You complain that I have not provided a source for saying that Indian law enforcement refused to engage but then fail conveniently to provide a source for your claim that the U.S. "has more urban gun crime and related fatalities than the rest of the world put together."

    Here's mine:,8599,1862839,00.html

    "Sebastian d'Souza, a photographer from the Mumbai Mirror who took the chilling pictures of one of the terrorists training his weapons on Mumbai's main railway station, watched the attack from a train carriage. 'There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,' he said he told the Independent. 'I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them.'"

    Where's yours, please? I agree that you should be offended, but it should be directed at those with the responsibility to act who refused to do so and not at the one pointing their failure out to you.

    4. There are many reliable reports, police and otherwise, of armed civilians successfully defending themselves from armed attackers. Just how do you tell, in the excitement of the moment, whether your attacker would be regarded as a terrorist? What difference does it make in any case?

    5. You do not have sufficient information, and you should know that you do not, to evaluate my degree of ignorance. El Reg's comment section is hardly the proper venue for much more reference material than I provide here in this post.

  64. Steve

    How did the IRA manage it?

    Why would the terrorists need such a precision aerial mapping service to plan their deeds? Would a lack of one really have led towards preventing it or reducing their ‘success’?

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These people are ridiculous


  66. Mike

    @Alan Esworthy

    >2. A world-renowned advocate of private ownership of firearms was, in fact, an Indian: Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi.

    Because if Gandhi said it, it must be true?

    A world-renowned advocate racisim was, in fact, an Indian: Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi.

    Do you also support race relocation, purity of race? blacks being subhuman?

    Alan, you are a fucktard, the kind of person who will use any soundbite or soapbox to spout drivel, shush.... you're a fool.

  67. Secretgeek
    Black Helicopters

    @ David Wilkinson

    "...seriously I think most governments would rather have terrorist target a military installation than some crowded marketplace."

    Call me an old tin-foil hat wearing cynical paranoid delusionist if you will, but...really? Are you sure?

    Civilians are cheap and a few dead ones are an excellent way of keeping the fear levels way up there. All good for the continued creeping imposition of the police state.

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