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Military Intelligence Monitored ‘Google Street View’ Project in Israel

Google's "Street View" car driving through the neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem.

Google's "Street View" car driving through the neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90

Israeli security authorities including the IDF Military Intelligence Formation, closely monitored the Google Street View Project, first launched in Israel just last month, giving a close look of streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The inspection prevented publication of pictures revealing classified information and locations of security facilities operating in Israel.

A source in the Military Intelligence Formation told “Bamahane Magazine” this week that “Until a few months ago, streets in Israel were not filmed to avoid information security violations. But after Google acknowledged our circumstance as a country under terrorist threat, we decided to cooperate with the company. After all, we are a democratic nation.”

Google and the IDF Military Intelligence Formation have been in contact for over a year to approve the pictures taken in Israel. The National Security Administration established a special department to negotiate with Google in Israel and ensure they are operating as agreed.

According to the agreement between Google and the Israeli security services, the company received advance approval for all the routes it planned to film using vehicles equipped with special cameras. The Military Intelligence Formation restricted Google’s access only to off-limit areas, including roads surrounding military bases.

“We were debating whether to allow entrance to facilities that the public doesn’t know about at all, but that are not clearly known as military facilities, including apartments where interviews and polygraph questioning take placed,” said the intelligence source. “In the end it was decided to approve filming of most areas, and an optimal combination between the security needs and the success of Google’s project was created.”

The Military Intelligence Formation was informed of filming schedules in advance, to make sure no vehicles bearing potentially classified characteristics are in sight. The Intelligence Formation also made sure no classified training exercises were being held on those specific days. ‘Bamahane Magazine’ also reported that the vehicles were equipped with tracking devices and security representatives tracked their movement.”

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