Google Maps refuses to blur aerial images of Belgian prisons
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    Google Maps refuses to blur aerial images of Belgian prisons

    Belgium has about 30 prisons, and currently, all om them are visible, in detail, on Google Maps. Credit: Google Maps

    The management of Belgian prisons have asked Google to blur the aerial images of their buildings on Google Maps, but the company refuses to do so.

    Belgium has about 30 prisons, and currently, all of them are visible, in detail, on Google Maps.

    “For security reasons, as far as we are concerned, it is not useful or necessary for people to know in such detail what a penal institution looks like within the walls,” said Kathleen Van de Vijver, a spokesperson for the Belgian prisons, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

    “We do not want those images to be used to prepare escape attempts, or to land a drone in a certain spot. We mainly want to avoid the security risk from the outside getting in,” added Van De Vijver.

    The Prisons have officially asked Google to make the images unusable by blurring them, but the company will only make adjustments when it is legally obliged to do so, according to Michiel Sallaets, a spokesperson for Google Belgium, reports VRT.

    “Google operates under a legal framework in Belgium, and we adhere to that,” Sallaets added. “As long as there is no legal framework around the blurring of prisons in Belgium, we cannot do anything,” he added.

    Last year, the nuclear agency FANC’s request to blur the satellite and aerial images of the nuclear power plants for safety reasons was also denied.

    The only Belgian sites that are blurred on Google Maps are the military ones, as there is a law that forbids “taking photographic records” of them, which means that even lone military broadcast antennas have become completely invisible on the maps.

    In France, Google has blurred the images of all its prisons, but only since 2017, after the country passed a law to that extent.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times