While Google Earth censors satellite images of sensitive locations like the White House in the United States with color blocks, images of locations similarly critical to national security in Australia are freely available in Google Earth.
Australian sites like Australia’s only nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney, the secret US spy base at Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs, and Parliament House in the nation’s capital city Canberra are currently not restricted.
The executive director of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Ian Smith, is quoted in “The Australian” newspaper as saying that he would ask Google to remove the Lucas Heights reactor from Google Earth. Google has defended Google Earth by saying that the satellite images were between 6 and 18 months old and didn’t show very much detail.
A Google spokeswoman stated, “The same information is available to anyone who flies over or drives by a piece of property”. The company that supplied the images to Google, Digital Globe, said that it did not censor any images, and that Google was free to use and distribute the images as they like.