Google has been accused of compromising US national security as its online Maps allows aerial shots of secret military bases to be viewed by the general public in the name of better mapping technology.
Aviation website Flight Global's claim that it discovered a hidden airstrip at Yucca Lake in Nevada, which is used for testing the R-170 drones similar to the one lost in Iran last week, has raised further concern.
Cedric Leighton, a retired Air Force colonel, said that the Google Maps site shows satellite images of either a Predator or Reaper drone on the airstrip, although Flight Global said the RQ-170 was tested there as well, information that is surely of interest to the Iranian military.
"Iranians would be most interested in operational bases because that tells them how we fly our surveillance missions," Leighton told Fox News.
Other Nevada military bases at the Tonopah Test Range like the Creech Air Force Base are also viewable at Google Maps. With this information, anyone, including foreign military, can look up satellite images to inspect secret US spy planes.
"Google is making public what was once the sole province of the military and intelligence community, making this a brave new world for the intel agencies as well," Leighton added.
Leighton pointed out that Google has the right to show these images to the public, but they should decide not to because they comprise military operations.
Meanwhile, Dr. John Michener, chief scientist at security firm Casaba, doesn''t see a problem with Google Maps showing spy plane imagery, as he believes that national laws do not apply above the atmosphere, and the mass public now has access to the same satellite images used by governments for decades.
At the same time, Michener warned that there would be a problem in terms of security if the government decided to filter through "deep-packet inspections," ultimately inserting code onto the Web that blocked access to secret images.