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Bahrain's ISPs Must Block Google Earth 79

Bashar writes "A Bahraini newspaper reported today that Bahrain government, following the block of nude sites, have instructed all ISPs to block the Google Earth service, making them one of the few countries worldwide to block a major Google service that is used around the globe, and proving very effective. Here is the same news source, translated by Google to English."
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Bahrain's ISPs Must Block Google Earth

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  • Censor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShimmyShimmy (692324) <bplennon AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:36PM (#15861274) Homepage Journal
    What exactly is the problem with Google Earth? I mean, nude sites, as stupid as it is to block them, at least have some moral backing. Are they just trying to convince everyone that the world is flat or something?
    • Re:Censor (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      According to this map [], the world is flat.
      • apparently the world is flat and repeating...
        • No, according to that map, it's more of a cylinder. The east and west edges meet, but I pity the fool who tries to visit either pole.

          • Either your window opened up pretty small or you have a small monitor and we were recently told we could stop designing sites for 800 x 600. On my screen I get 4 of each continent which is why I said repeating.
        • Thats just where the Google editors were trying to remove dust marks while working under bad lighting conditions. Its a common mistake.
    • Re:Censor (Score:5, Informative)

      by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:40PM (#15861296) Journal
      Bahrain is a little island between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It could be a military issue, they don't want their civilians being able to access satallite maps.
      • Re:Censor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by StikyPad (445176) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:47PM (#15861831) Homepage
        Because there's an imminent threat of attack from its own citizens?

        And blocking Google Earth will thwart them?!?!

        Bahrain is pretty liberal as far as theocracies go.. I'm surprised they've chosen censorship at all, but blocking Google Earth is particularly batty.
        • Maybe there's something on their own land that they don't want their own citizens to know about.
          • They don't want their citizens to know that they only have three aircraft for their big airstrip []. They probably spent the rest of the money that was budgeted for aircraft on hookers and booze or something.
          • by mpe (36238)
            Maybe there's something on their own land that they don't want their own citizens to know about.

            Since governments don't appear to believe the "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide" maxim why should anyone else?
        • Blocking google might not be as much to block it's own citizens from attacking them, it might be block it's citizens from attacking other and a becoming labeled a terrorist supporting nation wich would likley be invaded at some point in time.

          They might also have some stuff they are wanting to hide from thier citizens or just confused and thinking that if they block it, we won't be able to see them. OTOH, if the country is on the brink of civil war, then controling all the information in the country might be
          • it might be block it's citizens from attacking other and a becoming labeled a terrorist supporting nation

            Yes, because terrorists could never launch an attack without a four-year out-of-date satellite image.
            • Not dure if the date of the image matters as much as being able to pick targets, find escape routes that can be later verified, find building close to the target that could offer not only viewing areas but maybe even a launch platforms or operations centers. But these maps and imaes are availible in other places then Google earth so i would guess the banning it is so they can track the others.

              Yes, It is possible that they monitor library access and maybe internet site access. It might even be possible for t

        •   Just about as batty as many of the things happening in the US.

        • by cmholm (69081) <> on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:11PM (#15863053) Homepage Journal
          Because there's an imminent threat of attack from its own citizens?

          Not right at the moment, but I'd agree that blocking GE isn't going to slow them down. The Sheik and his family are Sunni, while the majority of Bahrainis are Shia. For years, the Shia perceived that they weren't getting a fair shake from the sheik, and the revolution in Iran didn't help. The opposition has been coopted to some degree by the introduction of a two house Parliment and regular elections (The GE closing may be a result of conservative morality agenda w/in the lower house, which also led to blocked porn sites). However, this is offset to some degree by the Sheik's long standing policies to assist the US in the Gulf, which aren't popular with most citizens.
      • The Bahraini know they share the island with these guys - et [].

        They don't need Google Earth to find the base. This is probably the whim of some Minister of Information / TRA or some such nonsense.
    • by Anonymous Coward
    • by sts (114707)
      It's probably because Bahrain is in the same quadrant as Quatar, which has a lot of military bases.
    • Nude beaches. All of those little flesh colored dots.
  • but why is the bahraini government doing this? are they scared people are going to use google earth to zoom in on paris hilton's naked follies? or are there other reasons, like "national security"?
    • In the past governments have claimed services such as Google Earth compromise national security by making it possible to see aerial details of restricted areas/buildings that people would not have as easy access to without the service. I think that is bollocks since such details are always available from other sources...
    • I keep reading the paranoid resons for them to block Google Earth, but has anyone thought about what size pipe a small island nation has to the rest of the world? Maybe they are having trouble with the amount of bandwidth that this is suddenly taking up, and are pressing to get Google to install a local cache so that they have more direct access to the rest of the information they need to run their enemies into the... um... maybe they just want Google to correct something on the map first. Yeah, that's it!
      • I know a few things about Bahrain since I lived there for a while. Your question makes sense, but I don't think that it is the reason that Google Earth is being restricted. My best guess is that Bahrain has an OC-12 to Saudi and a few satellite links.
        • I was under the impression Bahrain was one of the more liberal Arab countries - they have bars.


          • You are right, it is, and they do. You can even buy pork products in some of the supermarkets (in a secluded part of the store).

            Every Thursday night, the Saudis drive to Bahrain for shopping and entertainment. The joke is, "Allah cannot see across the causeway."

            The Bahraini, for the most part, are fairly open-minded, friendly, and are more interested in doing business than discussing politics or causing trouble.
    • National security in countries like Bahrain means one thing, protecting the king, not the nation.
  • One must wonder what kind of motivation a government would have to shut down something so useful. Is people not being lost all the time somehow beneficial to those in power? This makes no sense at all.

    This can mean only one thing... Baharain has a democratic form of government!
  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:38PM (#15861286) Homepage
    Good thing they translated it to english, or else I was screwed!
  • gov't too (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by The_REAL_DZA (731082) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:43PM (#15861314)
    They're worried about someone using Google Earth to look right smack down on any nude beach in the world. They can relax; anyone who tried it would get massive headaches from the eyestrain because the resolution just isn't there. Not that I tried to do that or anything...
    • Unfortunately the only people on a nude beach large enough to see from a satellite are, well, large.
    • I want larger-than-life views on the highest resolution monitor I can buy. About 4x larger than life should do; I don't require a microscope.

      We get to control latitude, longitude, and zoom. I also want to control at least two angles (compass direction and the elevation above the horizon) and time. It's important to have the old data too, so I can see who shot JFK.

      To make things easier, I need automatic object tracking. I'll choose an object, like your car, and get video that follows it. Time could be normal
      • > To make things easier, I need automatic object tracking

        Actually, this is basically there, and with no single camera needed. Great Britain, sorry, the UK, is currently implementing this.

        Seems like they've been putting cameras all over the place, especially on streets and intersections. Then someone realized they could do OCR to get license plate numbers. Then, just recently, some braniac realized you could write software to look at license plate readings + their time stamps, and map out a route cars
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:43PM (#15861320)
    They block web porn and Google Earth, but tolerate Michael Jackson? Oh yeah, I fogot he was acquitted...
  • Oh, well (Score:2, Insightful)

    Meh, their loss.

    Seriously, why is this a problem for anyone outside of Bahrain? If they want to remain stupid and ignorant, I say let them.
    • When someone's rights are violated, we all suffer... or something like that.
    • Yeah, well, what about those stuck in Bahrain who don't want to remain, as you put it, "stupid and ignorant"?
      • Tough titties, I say. They can change their own society (seeing as how we're having all this remarkable success) if they want. However, given recent trends in that part of the world, best of luck and all, but I'm not holding my breath.
    • Harmonisation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)
      Seriously, why is this a problem for anyone outside of Bahrain?

      Because it encourages other governments to "harmonise" to Bahraini law. Remember that harmonisation is how the US got the Bono Act and how Australia got counterparts to the Bono Act and the DMCA.

  • Google has been trying to pull a fast one on us with this google earth thing. You can't side step this, you're either a flat eather or you aren't. It's clear which side this government is on.

    Now it's time for you to pick sides.
  • Eventually, though, these Flat Earth Society people are going to have to give up and admit that the world is round.

    - RG>
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:46PM (#15861818) Homepage
    But isn't this the country that Michael Jackson moved to after his trail in California? That would explain a few things.
  • Here: []

    (google earth:)

  • that's my guess, a variation of the honeypot. They don't care about the vast bulk of the public seeing the maps, but they need a little winnowing action. They are interested in just a few people who REALLY want/need to see some critical features using the maps. the government there considers those folks "persons of interest". They are trolling for those guys to take the bait and try to circumvent their way to those maps.

    Granted, still lame, ways around it, etc, but it is still my guess. Governments/regimes
  • Speculation at the Bahraini Blog Mahmood's Den (No link provided; google him if you're interested... I like him too much to slashdot) speculate that either the governement there doesn't want the people to see how much prime real-estate has confiscated... It has als obeen claimed that one person put anti-government / misleading labels on all the palaces (there are like five or more, I believe)which pissed off some royal type. Mahmoud included directions on how to get around the blocking, though, being the
  • In Texas lawmakers outlawed web-based aerial photography and floor plans/appraisal information with senate bill 541. That is aerial photography of a certain resolution (depicts B 00541F.HTM

    This was, I think, in response to a string of burglaries in Houston where it was discovered that criminals picked targets and planned routes / optimized thievery based on aerial photos and floor plans.

    I would've just stopped showing the floor plans.

    Perhaps Bahrain is simila
  • It's possible to tunnel Google Earth's data exchanges around whatever they're blocking?
  • Bahrain is a relatively small country. How difficult might it be to stitch together the whole of the surrounding area from Google Maps or Earth, save it as a massive JPG or PNG, and mirror it around the net a bit? If that'd be too massive, a video clip of someone zooming around the whole area could also work.
  • it could be that they dont want people knowing there is an easy way to escape where they are.

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]