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Censorship United States

Spy Chief Hints At Limits On Satellite Photos 309

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-look-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, says that the increasing availability of commercial satellite photos may require the government to restrict distribution. 'I could certainly foresee circumstances in which we would not want imagery to be openly disseminated of a sensitive site of any type, whether it is here or overseas,' he said. This would include imagery on Web sites such as Google Earth, because the companies that supply the photos get help from the NGIA with launches." I had never heard of this particular intelligence agency. During the early months of the invasion of Afghanistan they bought up all satellite imagery over that country, worldwide, in a tactic later dubbed "checkbook shutter control."
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Spy Chief Hints At Limits On Satellite Photos

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  • by denoir (960304) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:29PM (#19047173)
    They can try to restrict as much as they can, but the fact is that much of the satellite images used by for instance Google are from non-US commercial sources. The only thing they'll accomplish by a restriction is hurting US business. The images will still be available from European and Japanese satellites.

    More realistic is that they have to learn to live with the fact that satellite images are available to the general public and adjust their strategy accordingly.

    • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:43PM (#19047281) Homepage
      The only thing they'll accomplish by a restriction is hurting US business. The images will still be available from European and Japanese satellites.

      Or US companies will just start doing more flyovers like they have been for Microsoft's Live Maps which offer views of locations from multiple locations (N, E, S, W). They are already trying to ban picture taking by civilians at various locations (what is this fucking North Korea?) and the flyovers will be next :(
      • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @05:01AM (#19049281)

        They are already trying to ban picture taking by civilians at various locations (what is this fucking North Korea?) and the flyovers will be next :(
        Once upon a time, it was considered acceptable that some information was unavailable to the public. For instance, the layout of nuclear facilities, the locations and materiel of defensive bases, or the site layouts and security measures of critical but vulnerable civilian infrastructure (dams, nuclear plants, hazardous waste facilities, fuel refineries, chemical plants, etc). It used to be that taking high-resolution pictures of such installations, systematically mapping the civilian and military infrastructure, and giving them out to foreign governments was considered treason. This was true for years in the USA, Canada, and wherever else in addition to "fucking North Korea." It seems reasonable that this should continue to be true.

        The general public has basically no need for this sort of information, but a hypothetical attacker does. There may not actually be many terrorists or spies in the US right now, but there's a decent chance that there are some, and in the past they've been very interested in this stuff. Maybe they can get it anyway, but let's make them at least risk exposure to do their reconnaissance, OK?

        You can rant all you want about security through obscurity, but the real world isn't a cryptosystem. The attacker has less time to study your nuclear site security offline (at least, as long as photographing it is illegal). Furthermore, Kerckhoff's principle doesn't say that systems shouldn't be obscure, just that their security shouldn't depend on it. Obscurity is still a valid defense in depth.
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @07:55AM (#19050037)

          Once upon a time, it was considered acceptable that some information was unavailable to the public.

          Once upon a time, it was considered that governments would use official secrets only to protect genuinely sensitive information.

          That time has passed. Western governments have been caught with their pants down, repeatedly, abusing their privilege of withholding information from the public for political reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with safeguarding the security of the nation and its people.

          The general public has basically no need for this sort of information, but a hypothetical attacker does.

          Perhaps, but (a) you were talking about detailed information relating to critical infrastructure, which is pretty close to being a straw man in a discussion about satellite imagery that clearly has many potential uses for the average person and probably doesn't show more than three big buildings in an L-shape, and (b) this question is really a matter of principle and not of specifics: should the presumption be that information must be released to the people by the people's government, or that the government may withhold information at will from the people?

          My views on this one are pretty clear now: no political administration should be allowed to keep any information away from the public, without a clear national security reason for doing so, as determined by an impartial official observer not directly connected with or accountable to the administration of the day.

          If you don't understand why the balance of power must be this way to protect the people, take a look at my sig, and then read a good book on 20th century history with that in mind.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mjbinon (1099409)

          The general public has basically no need for this sort of information

          I actually agree with this statement. Personally, I am a curious person, and I like to look stuff up purely for the sake of looking, but I'm also intelligent enough to understand that in some cases the need for security outweighs "curiousity". Such as the example given in TFA about the US paying to restrict satellite images of Afganistan during the conflict there. If doing this saves the lives of US soldiers, it doesn't bother me that I can't check out military camps in Afganistan from satellite pictu

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by pipatron (966506)

            If doing this saves the lives of US soldiers

            There's a much easier and obvious way to save the lives of US soldiers, but unfortunately I only want to provide that information on a need-to-know basis.

    • by networkBoy (774728) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:44PM (#19047291) Homepage Journal
      FTFA:
      They *bought* all the imagery.
      You can restrict information in many ways you know.
      -nB
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        More like they paid for the information not to be distributed.
        The same information can be sold many times, it's not something that can be out of stock.
        There is always the chance of someone having the information and not wanting an "exclusive deal" with the US intelligence community.
        • "There is always the chance of someone having the information and not wanting an "exclusive deal" with the US intelligence community."
          not likely.
          Money talks.
          "sure you can buy it, it costs $"
          "mumble mumble no redistribution, mumble pay $$"
          "well, normally I get $ from at least three companies, plus many 1/$ from smalltime users"
          "mumble, family, mumble $$$$$$"
          "deal!, you want the disks?"
          "nah, we got better, mumble, destroy"
          -nB
          • This is really funny -- sure, it worked once. But each satellite company has a monopoly on selling their own imagery, and once they realize how desperate the buyer is, they can jack the price up sky high. You want exclusive? Great, 100 x normal. For the first day. Then we will negotiate the second day at 1,000 x normal and see about the third day tomorrow. What, you are in a hurry? Well, sit down, have some tea, let us talk ....
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by zero_offset (200586)
              What makes you think it didn't happen that way this time around?

              I casually know the guy who owns Space Imaging. He's an old friend of one of my oldest friends who runs a GIS company and uses tons of satellite and aerial imagery (usually of military bases, actually). These companies already operate under a vast and complex body of regulations about who can and can't get pictures of various places, so this was probably a smaller step for them to take than most people are assuming.

              There are a few things to kee
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:55PM (#19047383)

      ...non-US commercial sources...
      Terraists.

      ...images will still be available from European and Japanese satellites...
      Either they are for US or against US.

      ...learn to live with the fact...
      You must be new here. This regime does not "live with facts".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499)
      More realistic is that they have to learn to live with the fact that satellite images are available to the general public and adjust their strategy accordingly.

      Um, it's not the NGA that would have to 'adjust their strategy.' It's the many facilities, run by everyone from the DoE to DoS to DoD to state and municipal entities, all of which would have to adapt to it.
    • by demachina (71715) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:02PM (#19047451)
      Exactly. The U.S. bureaucracy in particular, and America in general has such a massive dose of arrogance they are under the delusion they can still dictate anything and everything to the whole planet.

      90% of whats gone wrong in the last six years is almost entirely due to a acute arrogance mixed with bad case of ignorance on the part of the people in the Bush administration. That's a really dangerous cocktail.

      Russia, China, the E.U., Japan and India all have respectable capabilities to build and launch satellites, and more are joining the club. When the Space Shuttle is scraped there is probably going to be a very long window in which Russia and China will be able to put men in to orbit and the U.S. wont. The U.S. tries to bottle up satellite imagery I'm sure Russia or China will fill the void just to poke a finger in the eye of the U.S.

      To me this just sounds like another round of post 9/11 fear mongering.

      The U.S. seriously needs to wake up to the fact that the biggest threat to its National security is its massive trade and budget deficits, broken education system, energy dependence on parts of the world it can no long control, and a plunging dollar because no one has confidence in the U.S. anymore.

      If the U.S. were spending money on those issues instead of on an out of control defense industrial complex:

      A. It would be a lot more prosperous and secure
      B. The rest of the world would hate the U.S. a lot less and have fewer reasons to want to attack it

      The best defense program the U.S. could invest in right now is a serious effort to improve car mileage ASAP and then to develop clean, renewable and affordable energy sources.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SpaceLifeForm (228190)
        Totally agree.

        The best defense would be getting rid of the elements
        that are inside the US that are actively trying to
        damage the US.

        The current admin does everything, seriously, everything
        wrong, which creates long term damage.

        You can predict what their response will be to any
        situation: whatever will create damage will be the choice.

        The list is long. Katrina is a good example.

        • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:37AM (#19048685) Journal
          "The current admin does everything, seriously, everything
          wrong, which creates long term damage.

          You can predict what their response will be to any
          situation: whatever will create damage will be the choice.

          The list is long. Katrina is a good example."

          If the current adminstration was able to cause Katrina, then perhaps that tinfoil hat isn't going to be enough.....
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tinkerghost (944862)

            Actually this administration scrapped the FEMA structure & bundled it into homeland security without creating clear channels of communication - at the same time blocking a lot of the old channels.

            Next they had a report that New Orleans was in danger from a cat 3 or better hurricane - a report that was frighteningly accurate - that they discarded because they felt the damage estimates were much too high. This is just one of many examples for this administration where they cherry pick the information to

      • by PayPaI (733999)

        90% of whats gone wrong in the last six decades is almost entirely due to a acute arrogance mixed with bad case of ignorance on the part of the people in the presidential administration. That's a really dangerous cocktail.
        Fixed it for you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Go ahead and try to look at Google Earth in China. The closest you can zoom into is a drawn outline with major rivers. Satelite imagry is totaly forbidden. This is the country that, this year, outlawed private mapping activities.
      • by hey! (33014)
        I agree with your post for the most part, but let me play devil's advocate.

        The US Government could absolutely stop the distribution of commercial high resolution satellite imagery, plus keep tabs on what satellite imagery people obtain, at least at the outset.

        The method is simple. The method is foolproof to the point that it could only be circumvented by space faring nations. While it would be moderately pricey, but within the range of the kind of money it takes to fight the Global War on Terror(tm) it is
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adarklite (1033564)
      You can restrict a lot if you put your mind to it. The other countries will do as the US wishes because they don't want their sensitive military and intelligence data posted in a public forum as well. Quid pro quo. We don't want this information released to the general public and you don't want this information released.
  • panic? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blhack (921171)
    While i understand the logic here to an extent, it is a bit of a knee jerk reaction. If somebody really needed ariel photos of a place for illicit purposes it would be MUCH easier for them to obtain them from a balloon, or even an airplane. Not to mention the fact that they would be much more up to date. Its not like google earth has chloe sitting there hacking into the secret reserved spy satelite and feeding a live stream to the turrists.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      While i understand the logic here to an extent, it is a bit of a knee jerk reaction. If somebody really needed ariel photos of a place for illicit purposes it would be MUCH easier for them to obtain them from a balloon, or even an airplane.


      Have you ever tried this near military locations? And what kind of sentence did you get?

    • by Grave (8234)
      This has more to do with restricting access to imagery which might compromise potential or ongoing military action, I believe. To me, that makes complete sense - why allow your enemy to get a nice overhead view of your troop buildup if you don't have to?

      Then again, I did not RTFA, so maybe I missed something.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:30PM (#19047179) Homepage
    Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, says that the increasing availability of commercial satellite photos may require the government to restrict distribution.

    Reminds me of the old saying, "Beware of he who would restrict you from information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."
    • Reminds me of the old saying, "Beware of he who would restrict you from information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."


      Isn't that from Alpha Centauri? 1998's not old, and I don't know of it from any other source.
      • by Yartrebo (690383)
        I just looked it up in the game, and it is indeed from the game. That line is quoted as being said by 'Pravin Lal,' while things the game quotes from outside sources are referred to as 'datalinks.'
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        1998's not old

        Get back in your wheelchair you fossil! That's almost a whole friggin decade ago!

      • >1998's not old
        If it's your birthdate, no, if it's your age then...
    • by Urusai (865560)
      That ain't no dream, buddy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cowwoc2001 (976892)
      Give me a break.

      You didn't have unlimited access to satelite photography in the past, how is restricting said information in any way going to make them the masters of you. Governments have had this information for years and citizens did not.

      Censorship is also a loaded word here too. They are not censoring your freedom of speech nor anything which you have inherit rights to. You, as a human being, do not have an inherit right to any bit of information that might exist on the face of the earth and it is silly
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:33PM (#19047203)
    Ingorance is Strength

    War is Peace

    Freedom is Slavery

    Sincerely,
    Winston Smith
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)

      Ingorance is Strength
      War is Peace
      Freedom is Slavery

      Sincerely,
      Winston Smith
      I'm sorry, why is this funny? Sounds pretty inciteful (yah, I can spell) to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
        Google it, it's a quote (mixed up but accurate nonetheless) from 1984 by George Orwell. I believe the GP is commenting on how this act is a very Orwellian move by the government, trying to restrict information. Personally I have to agree, most countries have spy satellites, at least ones that are considered powerful, and so really if the terrorist's have any links to any countries, no matter how obscure, this won't matter. This is really nothing more than a solution to a problem that doesn't exist...a solut
  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:34PM (#19047209) Homepage Journal
    and service hell to boot.

    nsa, fema, homeland security (what the fuck is that), cia, fbi, this new thing in the article now, count as much as you can im sure there are more.

    i started to often think which rules your country - congress, senate and president, or these "service" organizations.
    • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @12:30AM (#19048051) Homepage
      homeland security (what the fuck is that)

      Fatherland was taken.
  • by Tjp($)pjT (266360) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:35PM (#19047211)
    The European satellite imagery is also for sale and can be had in multi-spectral and .5 meter resolution. There are too many commercial satellite image providers and sources to make limiting access unrealistic. Governments can put up there own and collect the data, state sponsorered para-military can just use what their sponsor obtains and high altitude aerial photography can be purchased for almsot any local on an on-demand basis. The "bad guys" have this info easily no matter what is done, all they prevent is sending a picture of your house captured from above to your friends and family and such. All it takes is money to purchase the imagery and at better resolution than most free sources, as well as IR and various other wavelengths if desired. India and China launch satellites too and make satellites. With current known technology it would not be tough to collect the imagery and resell it just to tweak the NRO/NGIA noses.
    • by chill (34294)
      And .5 meter is the limit. His point is the NGA forked over over $1 Billion to help companies launch satellites that get better than .5 m resolution, and by law -- U.S. AND European, IIRC -- they are supposed to degrade the image to .5 m before selling it to non-approved clients.

      They have $$, and money talks. So much so that during the beginning of the Afghan war, they simply BOUGHT UP EVERY SAT PHOTO AVAILABLE of the area for months.

      Half-meter resolution is good. If you know what you're looking at, you
    • by b00le (714402) <interference&libero,it> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @05:56AM (#19049507) Homepage
      There are no commercial European satellites with .5 metre pixel capability. The only commercial European Remote Sensing mission currently is SpotImage [spotimage.fr] -- Spot 5 has a 2.5 m capability.

      For all those who ask 'how hard can it be?' (shades of Top Gear...) entry level into the commercial Very High Resolution satellite business starts at around half a billion -- don't forget the ground segment. Even future missions are not planning to go much below .4 metre: the problems of handling huge data volumes, programming the satellite acquisitions, and the trade-off in covereage are not worth the gains in sharpness for most commercial users. The US military can get down to about 10 cm (allegedly), but are believed to use highly elliptical orbits (and huge, Hubble-sized telescopes) which would be inmpractical for commercial operators. 10 cm is not as good as Hollywood has got: the last episode of '24' showed what was supposed to be a Landsat [eurimage.com] image - only it was thermal infrared at about 1 cm updated once a second (as opposed to 15 m every two weeks or more...)

      The Man may well have bought 'all the coverage of Afghanistan' -- from a single operator. The Ikonos mission (1m pixel) was the only one operating at the time. The US Govt. does retain 'shutter control' rights of all the VHR missionslicensed by them - which is all the current VHR missions. That will change - especially with COSMO-SkyMed [eoportal.org], a constellation of all-weather radar satellites with a max. resolution of >1m, coming soon.

      There's a intro to VHR satellite imagery here [eurimage.com].
  • by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:35PM (#19047213)
    I'm sure that Congress will pass a bill restricting the distribution of satellite imagery attached to something else that must pass in the near future. Something innocuous and large like a budget or telecom related bill.

    On the plus side, the images that are already out there are staying out there, so some things like Google Earth are just going to become outdated, but they've already been doing this in some other circumstances - ever try to look at any of the buildings in DC for instance?
    • We are talking about a government that has removed things like nuclear-plant schematics from libraries. There are many plans and censuses and charts which were once freely available, but if you the average slashdotter want them now, then you'd better have made copies before now or know someone else who has.
      It's easy to take down a website. I see fanfiction websites (think "derivative works") disappear all the time. The government can't keep satellites from other nations from taking pictures at whatever
  • by uncreativ (793402) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:35PM (#19047221)
    I really don't like the government telling us what information we have the right to have. (sigh) guess we've gone too far down the rabbit hole on that one.

    I also really don't like the idea of companies making imagery of my property available to whomever wants it. My business is my business and is not for sale. I guess preventing that from happening is futile as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tuoqui (1091447)
      You could always cover you property in a giant tarp. That way they cant see whats going on underneath it...

      Ofcourse that only works if you have a relatively small property.
      • Or a relatively giant tarp.
      • by Barny (103770)
        Comes back to the use of personal anti-satalite weaponry, so long as its not ballistic or laser you should be fine.

        If you are charged with destruction of national property you can ask them where it was clearly labled, and of course claim that you thought it was a meteorite and you were upholding your right to bear (admittedly a little overpowered) arms to defend your home, family and country.

        Of course they would just throw you in jail with no charges and claim 6mths later that "army contractors have finnish
    • by TheMCP (121589) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @04:28AM (#19049165) Homepage
      1) Paint a picture on your house. Heck, you could even just paint an interesting geometric design on it. Just make it interesting enough that people wouldn't laugh at you if you called it "artistic expression". Stick a copyright symbol on it somewhere. If you're feeling particularly zealous, take a picture of it and register for a copyright with the copyright office [copyright.gov].

      2) Identify company selling pictures of your house showing the picture or design you painted.

      3) Sue them under the DMCA for selling pirated reproductions of your copyrighted "artistic work" (aka the paintjob on your house).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "we would not want imagery to be openly disseminated of a sensitive site of any type, whether it is here or overseas"

    This guy has it all wrong - they should be opensourcing these images, not closing them off. Let the denizens of parents' basements across America search for signs of Osama. We could have slashdot strategy sessions:

    slashdotter 1: 'We need to lure them with a weak force down the center, then surprise outflank them - it worked for the Carthaginians.

    slashdotter 2: 'You asstard: the Carthaginians were destroyed - the Romans sowed their fucking fields with fucking salt. someone mod this dipshit down

  • ... our capitalist overlords!
  • NGA = NIMA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:51PM (#19047353) Journal
    NGA (NGIA in the submission) the artist formerly known as NIMA - not a new organization just a different name...
    • Link [usgs.gov]

      The Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), is the distributor of public sale National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) topographic maps, publications, and digital products.

    • Not In My Atlas?!
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:02PM (#19047443) Homepage Journal
    There are already plenty of public places in the USA with posted signs prohibiting video/photos.

    These restrictions are clear violations of the Constitution, which creates no power for our government to prevent our recording public places. Not to mention absolutely unamerican in attitude.

    There's so much accumulated destruction of America to fix now that it'll take generations to even catch up to where we could be, not to mention all the new problems accumulating while we're catching up. If we can even reverse momentum at all.
    • Right, but this is a totally unrealistic view of the world. If government buildings are public places, you should be able to photograph those to, right? You should be able to photograph the invasion plans for Normandy, right? I'm as afraid of the slippery slope of censorship as the next person but surely the answer (as usual) is actually somewhere in the middle.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Of course I should be able to photograph the public parts of those buildings, like the parts I can see from the street. Of course I should be able to photograph the Normandy invasion plans, now that the invasion is over a half-century old, and they're in a museum.

        And of course the interiors of "public" buildings that are actually classified/restricted (including offices requiring appointments), and new plans still closed to public access, should not be photographed without proper authorization.

        That's why we
        • by gadzook33 (740455)
          Yeah, the outside of those building are sensitive (maybe not classified but that doesn't really matter). There's no difference between the security posture of a nuclear silo and war plans. They don't have those signs up because they're worried about you photographing the building, they have signs up because they're worried about you doing recon on the security detail. But then, that's sort of self-evident, isn't it?
    • The US Constitution doesn't preclude the states from regulating public places.
    • Actually, there probably isn't an area of the Constitution more unclear.

      If you are out doing something in your fields, anybody can observe you.

      If you are in your house, what you do is private.

      In between -- things get murky. Anybody can walk up to your front door an knock of course, but the area in the immediate vicinity of your house, call the curtilage, has an intermediate level of protection. People can't poke around it with impunity to find things out about you. They can't stand in the bushes outside
  • oh really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toby (759) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:13PM (#19047549) Homepage Journal

    During the early months of the invasion of Afghanistan they bought up all satellite imagery over that country, worldwide

    Did they buy everything Russia has*? How? Is it really credible that Russia would enter into some kind of clandestine NDA over this material? And what would it mean if they did? We can assume that the US government has more money than $GOD to execute its evil. But what would be the motive here? To prevent before-and-after comparisons? Did they buy up all Iraq's too?

    * - There must be a substantial archive of Afghan intelligence somewhere in Russia, as a legacy of the 9-year war. [wikipedia.org]

    • by jim_deane (63059)
      If you're referring to nine year old intelligence images, you might as well give them maps of Kansas and label them "Afghanistan".

      Nine year old data, unless it is part of a "then and now" data set or some specific study about historical trends, is useless.
  • Agency names (Score:2, Informative)

    by Galen Wolffit (188146)
    The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency used to be the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), but they changed their name sometime in 2003 or 2004. They wanted to play with the "big boy" intelligence agencies, all of whom had three letter acronyms, so they changed their name and added a hyphen - they're now known as NGA, not NGIA.
  • Intelligence Agency? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:29PM (#19047683)
    If you click around the NGIA website long enough, you will wind up at an open Netscape LDAP server, where you may freely search the agency's employee LDAP tree. There are some visible admin links, but I didn't click any. Most of the information is mundane, but each search result included full name, employment status (contractor/fte), sex, and user ids. Hint: you get there through a link in a PDF available on the site. You might not find that information interesting, but others might (it is a government intelligence agency, after all).

    I question the legitimacy of any intelligence agency this sloppy. I bet they have as much depth as the DHS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >I question the legitimacy of any intelligence agency this sloppy.

      I hope slashdot will let me make an anon posting today.

      I know quite a few of the people who work in that office, because they provide a great deal of Geospatial data to us research types, to the USEPA, to the USGS, to state agencies, etc.

      The thing I wanted to point out is that many of them could, if they chose, greatly increase their salaries if they wanted to work in the EPA, USGS, or for a municipal survey organization. They choose to s
  • What for? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:58PM (#19047845)
    What is the strategic weakness exposed by satellite imagery, that is not exposed by the other myriad sources of information that are available? So you can see the top of the White House on Google Maps. So what, anyone can see it from the Washington Monument or the Hay Adams.

    Important strategic installations are already satellite-proofed because of the Russians. The rest doesn't matter because there are so many other ways to find out the same information.

    This is just like the time a National Geographic photographer was denied permission to photograph a bridge becuase of security concerns. He pointed out that if someone wants to know where the bridge is, they can read a map. If they want to see it they can drive over it as many time as they want. It didn't sway them and in fact he was told if he went up in the helicopter he would be shot down. Morons.
  • ..to offer that kind of imagery at the resolutions of 1m or less. There's no way people are going to sell their rights - especially if they're foreign governments.

    ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is the world's third and only second non-US supplier of 1-m imageries and perhaps the most competitively priced; the data comes at a premium of nearly 40 per cent. Some data is internationally priced at $18-20 per picture of a sq km.

    From http://www.india-defence.com/reports/3031 [india-defence.com]

    Restrictions? Laugh
  • by ikekrull (59661) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @12:32AM (#19048059) Homepage
    I know that weather satellites transmissions can be received and decoded using a PC easily enough - I wonder just how much more difficult it would be to decode signals from imaging satellites from your own dish?

    I'm sure they use some type of encryption, but you know, thats not always (e.g. HD-DVD) the barrier it is supposed to be. Also, recent events such as the Tamil Tigers hijacking satellite bandwidth makes me wonder just what might be possible.

    Anyone do any satellite hacking?

    • by b00le (714402) <interference&libero,it> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @05:25AM (#19049389) Homepage
      Nothing to it - all you need is a 12m tracking dish capable of keeping up with a Low Earth Orbit Satellite on a circa. 90 minute orbit, hardware capable of handling the huge bandwidth required (a single QuickBird scene of about 272 km^2 runs to gigabytes, then you can hack into the satellite to persuade it to unload the raw data from the on-board solid-state memory to your PC which knows how to process it into system-corrected data and then...

      look, forget it. Weather satellites are geostationary, and the pictures they send are small. There's a intro to VHR satellite imagery here [eurimage.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PhxBlue (562201)

        Nothing to it - all you need is a 12m tracking dish capable of keeping up with a Low Earth Orbit Satellite on a circa. 90 minute orbit, hardware capable of handling the huge bandwidth required (a single QuickBird scene of about 272 km^2 runs to gigabytes, then you can hack into the satellite to persuade it to unload the raw data from the on-board solid-state memory to your PC which knows how to process it into system-corrected data and then...

        I have one of those at work, but they won't let me play with

  • by brg (37117) <brg AT dgate DOT org> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:18AM (#19048609) Homepage

    FWIW, this is also the agency that successfully pulled Dafif, a huge database of periodically updated worldwide aeronautical information historically available for free to the public, off the public Internet. Here's a brief story [navaid.com] about it and where you used to be able to get it [164.214.2.62]. So in a sense this sort of statement is very much in character; this guy is probably "just doing his job". He is a DoD employee, after all.

    Now, they will probably have a much tougher time pwning all the satellite images, especially in future, because they aren't the sole provider of such images. The right answer is probably competition, i.e., for more commercial providers to get satellites up... makes it that much harder for any one agent (or agency) to corner the market, anyway. And TFA seems to suggest that that is indeed happening.

    It does sort of seem like a basic drawback of so-called open-source intelligence [wikipedia.org] (which has nothing to do with "open source" per se) that everyone else pretty much has the ability to get at it too, if they look hard enough. Perhaps the complaint is that now they don't have to look very hard at all.

  • by hughk (248126) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:53AM (#19048999) Journal
    Isn't it true that much of the high resolution photography on Google Earth and similar services is derived from standard aerial photography? Mapping is a commercial activity and aerial photography makes an invaluable contribution to the modern cartographer. The photographs are a byproduct of the process as well as a product in themselves.
  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @04:35AM (#19049187)
    I was on Microsoft Live's maps last night (first time) enjoying the birds eye view of my house (really impressed, can see individual items in the garden and my car parked outside). I then wondered how much sensitive stuff was allowed so I scrolled over to a military research place near where I live. Almost nothing is known about his place apart from its existence and that it's something to do with testing & research. Well, it was all there. I spent an hour looking at the bunkers, tanks, gun emplacements, various buildings, roads, railways etc. I was amazed I was allowed. I then moved over to an island nearby that is shared between military and farmers - non residents need a pass to visit. That was all there too.
    With a bag of goodness like that online, I just don't know where to 'snoop' next!
  • by Bowdie (11884)
    I live round the corner from GCHQ Cheltenham, and there are signs every few meters on the fence stating that it's a restricted area and that because of the official secrets act, I cannot photograph it. That's ok by me, as both google and live both have razor sharp images of the building and surrounding land.

    I've lived there for so long, the site no longer holds any interest for me, but it does kind of make a mockery of the ruling. Hell, in the live bird's eye view, I can see my car on my driveway.
  • by zotz (3951) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @07:17AM (#19049861) Homepage Journal
    [During the early months of the invasion of Afghanistan they bought up all satellite imagery over that country, worldwide, in a tactic later dubbed "checkbook shutter control."]

    More like Censorship via Copyright right? Isn't this play on the rise? By private individuals as well as governments?

    all the best,

    drew

    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=zotzbro [youtube.com]

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