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Google’s Street View raises issue of terrorism

JERUSALEM — Google has for years fought claims its mapping and photography services infringed on personal privacy. Now the Internet giant is facing concerns from Israel that the technology could be used for terrorism.

Israel announced Monday it is considering ways for Google Street View to photograph Israeli cities, despite concerns the popular service could be used by terrorists to plot attacks against sensitive locations or political figures.

A team of Israeli Cabinet ministers led by Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor instructed experts Monday to work with Google Inc. to find a safe way to implement the feature “as soon as possible,” according to an official statement. The team is weighing benefits, such as increased visibility for tourist sites, with public safety and personal privacy.

Street View allows users to virtually tour locations on a map. It is already available in 27 countries. Google uses special vehicles with panoramic cameras to take ground-level images.

Israeli officials are concerned about putting unprecedented information about potential targets on the Internet. During wartime, the military often bans reporters from revealing locations that have been hit by rockets, out of concern enemies could use the coordinates for future attacks.

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have said they used Google Earth – a service that shows satellite images from around the world – to help identify targets in rocket attacks.

Ministers involved in the deliberations declined to comment, but Google said it hopes “to offer the benefits of street-level imagery to users all around the world.”