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Israel mulls dangers of allowing Google Street View


A man checks out the homepage of Google internet search engine in an office in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8, 2011, when Google paid tribute to Jules Verne, author of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." Israel is debating letting in Google Street View.


Jewel Samad

Israel says it is considering ways to allow Google Street View to photograph Israeli cities, despite concerns the popular 3D-mapping service could be used to plot terror attacks.

Israeli cabinet ministers had instructed experts Monday to work with Google to find a safe way to implement the feature "as soon as possible," according to a government statement.

Street View, launched in 2006, allows users to virtually tour locations on a map and is already available in 27 countries. To map areas, Google uses special vehicles with panoramic cameras to take ground-level, 3D images.

Street View has sparked intense debate about personal privacy in other countries, but in Israel, officials are concerned about putting unprecedented information about potential terrorism targets in the Jewish state on the internet.

At a meeting on Monday, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor and others were given a presentation explaining the "implications for privacy and public safety and internal security, while at the same time presenting the benefits for Israel's image and for tourism," Agence France-Press reported.

The ministers were to discuss whether to allow Google to photograph the streets where the prime minister's and president's residences, the government compound and foreign embassies are located, among other sites.

Google is targeting only Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and possibly Haifa, the website said.