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Satellite map images with missing or unclear data

Some locations on free, publicly viewable satellite map services have missing, incomplete, or unclear map data. In some cases, these regions have been intentionally digitally obscured or blurred.[1] Westchester County, New York, for example, has asked Google to blur potential terrorism targets (such as an amusement park, a beach, and parking lots) from its satellite imagery.[2]

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In some cases, censorship of certain sites has been removed. When Google Maps was launched, images of the White House and United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. were blurred out; current versions of Google Maps and Google Earth show these sites uncensored.[3]


Countries in official contact with Google MapsEdit

During talks with the Indian government, Google issued a statement saying "Google has been talking and will continue to talk to the Indian government about any security concerns it may have regarding Google Earth."[4] Google agreed to blur images on request of the Indian government.[1]

The Australian government has decided that images of sensitive areas are not a risk, due to poor level of detail.[5] It was reported that in the lead-up to the APEC forum in Sydney held in September 2007 certain key locations in images of the city's central business district, where APEC leaders were meeting, might have been intentionally reduced in resolution; however, Google has indicated that the change was unrelated to APEC, while the NSW police said that they knew nothing about the change in Google's images. It is known that images of Her Majesty's Australian Prisons are intentionally blurred out. Images of the prime minister's official residence, The Lodge have not been blurred. However, images of its roof have been and the entrance to The Lodge is blurred in Google Street View.[6]

The government of Malaysia has stated that it will not ask Google to censor sensitive areas because that would identify the locations it deemed to be sensitive.[7]

Examples of map locations with missing or unclear dataEdit

Most military and defense facilities, along with many private homes, appear blurred in mapping services. The vast majority of Antarctica is also in low resolution due to the bright, often featureless, ice and snow making high-resolution imaging both difficult and largely unnecessary.


Location Country Details Link and coordinates
14-Mile Blur Antarctica Several large areas of Antarctica are blurred, including one over 14 miles long. Blurring is well past the normal low-resolution for most of the continent. [1] 70°10′40″S 87°49′29″E / 70.177653°S 87.824707°E / -70.177653; 87.824707 (14-Mile Blur)


Location Country Details Link and coordinates
Super Brand Mall China A portion of the real Super Brand Mall location is not visible because of the Chinese GPS shift problem. This is only visible in Google Maps. [2] 31°14′20″N 121°29′43″E / 31.238885°N 121.495365°E / 31.238885; 121.495365 (Super Brand Mall)
The entirety of Israel, Palestine, and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Israel The entire country of Israel is shown pixelated in all mapping services, including Google maps, mapquest, Bing, etc. This is a result of the Kyl–Bingaman Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997. The amendment is titled "Prohibition on collection and release of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel" and requires NOAA's Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs agency to regulate the distribution of zoomed images of Israel. [3] 31°N 35°E / 31°N 35°E / 31; 35 (Garabogazköl Basin)
2 unknown areas in the Bara Hoti section India There are 2 large gray squares that are found in the Bara Hoti section, one of the many disputed areas found in the borders of India and China. It is found east of Nanda Devi National Park. [4] 30°45′3″N 80°6′1.1″E / 30.75083°N 80.100306°E / 30.75083; 80.100306 (Gray Square 1) 30°42′8″N 80°7′25.8″E / 30.70222°N 80.123833°E / 30.70222; 80.123833 (Gray Square 1)
Shamsi Airfield[8] Pakistan Unmanned Predators. Images from 2006 were removed. Images from 2007 have runway markings removed. [5] 27°51′0″N 65°10′0″E / 27.85000°N 65.16667°E / 27.85000; 65.16667 (Predator Air Base)
Garabogazköl Turkmenistan The Garabogazköl Basin is shown pixelated in Fourmilab. In all other mapping services, it appears as a normal lagoon. [6] 41°10′22.57″N 53°42′15.47″E / 41.1729361°N 53.7042972°E / 41.1729361; 53.7042972 (Garabogazköl Basin)


Location Country Details Link and coordinates
Enormous area in France France Completely obscured when zoomed in on Google Maps. It's unknown why it's been censored. [7] 48°33′55″N 1°39′10″W / 48.565190°N 1.652853°W / 48.565190; -1.652853 (Enormous area in France.)
Office of Atomic Energy (Cadarache Center) France Large obscuring pixelation of the whole site. [8] 43°41′23″N 5°45′38″E / 43.689722°N 5.760555°E / 43.689722; 5.760555 (CEA Cadarache)
HWU transmitter France Reduced resolution on most of the image. [9] 46°42′47″N 1°14′39″E / 46.713056°N 1.244167°E / 46.713056; 1.244167 (HWU transmitter)
AREVA La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility France The AREVA La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility is shown in reduced resolution. [10] 49°40′49″N 1°52′48″W / 49.68028°N 1.88000°W / 49.68028; -1.88000 (AREVA La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility)
Orange-Caritat Air Base France The Orange-Caritat Air Base is shown in reduced resolution. [11] 44°08′21″N 4°51′44″E / 44.13917°N 4.86222°E / 44.13917; 4.86222 (Orange)
Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base France The Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base is shown in reduced resolution. [12] 48°46′21″N 2°12′58″E / 48.77250°N 2.21611°E / 48.77250; 2.21611 (Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base)
Moronvilliers France The ruins of a French village known as Moronvilliers, which was destroyed by German Soldiers during World War 1, are blurred on Google Maps. There is Google Street View imagery running right though the censored area. [13] 49°14′28″N 4°19′27″E / 49.24111°N 4.32417°E / 49.24111; 4.32417 (Moronvilliers ruins)
Prison of Riom France A prison at Riom is covered by farmland and only a portion of the prison is visible. Visible on Google Maps [14] 45°53′25.4″N 3°09′01.1″E / 45.890389°N 3.150306°E / 45.890389; 3.150306 (Prison of Riom)
Ingolstadt Manching Airport Germany No longer blurred on Google Maps. Entire airport blurred out on Bing Maps aerial view. [15] 48°42′56″N 11°32′02″E / 48.71556°N 11.53389°E / 48.71556; 11.53389 (Ingolstadt Manching Airport)
Andravida Air Base Greece The base's area appears in low resolution on Google Maps, but a high resolution image is available on Bing Maps Aerial view. [16] [17] 37°55′11″N 21°17′32″E / 37.91972°N 21.29222°E / 37.91972; 21.29222 (Andravida Air Base)
Ayioi Anargyroi Military Base Athens Greece The base appears pixelated on Google Maps, but a high resolution image is available on Bing Maps Aerial view. [18] 38°01′31″N 23°42′57″E / 38.02528°N 23.71583°E / 38.02528; 23.71583 (Unknown Military Base)
Unknown area near Emporio, Santorini. Greece An area north east of the Emporio village in Santorini is pixelated on and only on Google Maps. Google street view runs through the pixelation and multiple photo spheres exist for the area as well. [19] 36°22′07.2″N 25°27′08.8″E / 36.368667°N 25.452444°E / 36.368667; 25.452444 (An area near Emporio, Santorini, Greece)
Portlaoise Prison Ireland An old satellite image from 2005 is superimposed over newer images for the entire area of the prison. The prison houses convicted members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and other illegal paramilitary and terrorist organisations. The security features include an Irish Army detachment of the Defence Forces armed with assault rifles and anti-aircraft machine guns. An air exclusion zone operates over the entire complex. [20] 53°02′16.69″N 7°17′10.72″W / 53.0379694°N 7.2863111°W / 53.0379694; -7.2863111 (Portlaoise Prison)
Szefostwo Służby Poland The weather station appears in low resolution on Google Maps, but a high resolution image is available on Bing Maps Aerial view. [21] 52°04′26″N 21°01′14″E / 52.0739°N 21.0205°E / 52.0739; 21.0205 (Mysiadło)
Dowództwo Wojsk Specjalnych Poland The Polish Special Forces Command in Krakow, Poland is completely blurred on Google Maps and Wikimapia, but not other mapping websites Bing Maps and Yahoo Maps. [22] 50°02′13″N 19°54′14″E / 50.0370°N 19.9038°E / 50.0370; 19.9038 (Dowództwo Wojsk Specjalnych)
Ministério da Defesa Portugal Defense Ministry Offices Lisbon. Blurry image shown, but data layers are integrated when looking at previous dates. [23] 38°42′15″N 9°12′24″W / 38.7042°N 9.20677°W / 38.7042; -9.20677 (Ministério da Defesa)
Jeannette Island Russia In Google Maps, the island has been entirely blacked out. [24] 76°47′24″N 157°58′00″E / 76.79000°N 157.96667°E / 76.79000; 157.96667
Severnaya Zemlya, a large archipelago off the north coast of Russia. Russia All of the major islands have been blurred. [25] 79°19′22.8″N 95°19′42.13″E / 79.323000°N 95.3283694°E / 79.323000; 95.3283694
Regimiento Estratégico de Transmisiones número 22 (RETES22) "Strategic Signals Regiment number 22" [9][10] Spain Image not consistent with surroundings. Completely blurred in Bing. [26] 40°27′55″N 3°44′00″W / 40.465201°N 3.733313°W / 40.465201; -3.733313 (Puerta de Hierro)
Mando de Transmisiones del Ejército "Army Command Signals"[10][11] Spain Censored in Bing Bird's Eye view. [27] 40°24′25″N 3°47′16″W / 40.40706°N 3.78772°W / 40.40706; -3.78772 (Puerta de Hierro)
"Patio de los Naranjos" (lit. Orange Tree Yard) Spain Blurred on Google Maps. [28] 36°50′20″N 2°28′20″W / 36.838919°N 2.472312°W / 36.838919; -2.472312 (Patio de los Naranjos)
Försvarets Radioanstalt – West of Stockholm near Drottningholm Sweden Facility surrounded partially by woods which is blurred in Bing and Yahoo Maps. Replaced with badly edited overlay of woods in and Clear in Google Maps. [29] 59°19′55″N 17°51′20″E / 59.332046°N 17.855496°E / 59.332046; 17.855496 (Försvarets Radioanstalt - Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment)

North AmericaEdit

Location Country Details Link and coordinates
Western Campeche Bank. Mexico The Triangulos Chain and Obispo Chain of islands are blacked out in Google Maps. No detailed view in Bing Maps [30] 20°42′41.73″N 92°13′23.64″W / 20.7115917°N 92.2232333°W / 20.7115917; -92.2232333 (Island Chains in Gulf of Mexico)
The White House and surroundings. United States Buildings blurred or otherwise censored for various dates in Google Earth. Images of the area from previous years lack any censorship. [31] 38°53′51.61″N 77°02′11.58″W / 38.8976694°N 77.0365500°W / 38.8976694; -77.0365500 (White House and surroundings)
The United States Capitol and surroundings. United States Buildings blurred or otherwise censored for various dates in Google Earth. Images of the area from previous years lack any censorship. [32] 38°53′22.99″N 77°0′01″W / 38.8897194°N 77.00028°W / 38.8897194; -77.00028 (U.S. Capitol and surroundings)
Number One Observatory Circle, official residence of the Vice President of the United States United States Buildings blurred for various dates in Google Earth. Other years the area lacks any obfuscation. [33] 38°55′16.64″N 77°04′01″W / 38.9212889°N 77.06694°W / 38.9212889; -77.06694 (Naval Observatory/Residence of the Vice President of the United States)
Auburn Correctional Facility (maximum security prison), Auburn, New York United States Shown as censored, however not in all years. [34] 42°56′4.92″N 76°34′27.64″W / 42.9347000°N 76.5743444°W / 42.9347000; -76.5743444 (Auburn Correctional Facility)
Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant in Ithaca, New York United States Facility blurred in Google in May 2007, but not on Bing Maps. Uncensored in Google October 2008 onwards. [35] 42°26′32.69″N 76°28′26.04″W / 42.4424139°N 76.4739000°W / 42.4424139; -76.4739000 (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)

South AmericaEdit

Location Country Details Link and coordinates
South Sandwich islands United Kingdom In Google Maps, the satellite images of the islands are badly misaligned with their actual locations, by more than a mile in some places. [36] 58°00′S 26°30′W / 58.000°S 26.500°W / -58.000; -26.500 (South Sandwich Islands)


  1. ^ a b Deshpande, Rajeev (4 February 2007). "Google Earth agrees to blur pix of key Indian sites". The Times of India.
  2. ^ "Westchester 'Blurs' Out Terror Targets On Google". WCBS-TV. 8 May 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  3. ^ Johnson, Jenna (22 July 2007). "Google's View of D.C. Melds New and Sharp, Old and Fuzzy". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Google Earth prompts Indian fears". BBC News. 5 February 2007. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008.
  5. ^ Skatssoon, Judy (8 August 2005). "Lucas Heights image stays on Google". 34.0516520;150.9804300: ABC. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  6. ^ Moses, Asher (13 August 2007). "Google's photos of Sydney go all fuzzy". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  7. ^ Parliament In Brief: ‘No need to blur images’ Archived May 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Shachtman, Noah (19 February 2009). "Google Earth Shows U.S. Drones at Pakistani Base?". Wired.
  9. ^ "Sitios Censurados De Espa/Ñ/A En Google Earth -Foro España" (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Edificio invisible en Madrid". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Photo of Pozuelo de Alarcón – Antenas del cuartel de transmisiones". Panoramio. 18 February 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2013.

External linksEdit