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China Communications IOS Software The Military Apple News Technology

Apple Maps Accidentally Reveals Secret Military Base In Taiwan 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-harm-no-foul dept.
redletterdave writes "After one Taiwanese newspaper snapped and printed a satellite photo of a top-secret military base from the new Maps application running on an iPhone 5, the defense ministry of Taiwan on Tuesday publicly requested Apple blur the sensitive images of the country's classified military installations. The top-secret radar base, located in the northern county of Hsinchu, contains a highly-advanced ultra-high-frequency long-range radar that military officials say can detect missiles launched as far away as the city of Xinjiang, which is located in northwest China. The radar system was obtained via U.S.-based defense group Raytheon in 2003, and is still being constructed with hopes to be completed by the end of this year. 'Regarding images taken by commercial satellites, legally we can do nothing about it,' said David Lo, the spokesman of Taiwan's defense ministry, in a statement to reporters. 'But we'll ask Apple to lower the resolution of satellite images of some confidential military establishments the way we've asked Google in the past.'"
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Apple Maps Accidentally Reveals Secret Military Base In Taiwan

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  • by AuralityKev (1356747) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:45PM (#41612317)
    They found it when they were actually searching for the nearest Burger King in Gary, Indiana.
  • Xinjiang (Score:5, Informative)

    by trainman (6872) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:51PM (#41612413) Homepage

    Slight correction, Xinjiang is a province not a city. And a very lovely part of the country to visit.

  • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:51PM (#41612419) Homepage

    The images of a base showed up, so they gave everyone the specs and capabilities of the radar system in their request to hide the base again? That doesn't seem very clever.

    "Dear Google, we see you're showing images of Area 51. This is the base where we hide all the alien corpses and spacecraft we've collected over the years, so we'd really appreciate it if you blur the aerial photography. Thanks!"

    • by mooingyak (720677)

      The images of a base showed up, so they gave everyone the specs and capabilities of the radar system in their request to hide the base again? That doesn't seem very clever.

      "Dear Google, we see you're showing images of Area 51. This is the base where we hide all the alien corpses and spacecraft we've collected over the years, so we'd really appreciate it if you blur the aerial photography. Thanks!"

      That part seemed a little bit odd to me too. Only thing I can think of is that it's their way of telling China that there's nothing for them to worry about without actually saying that.

    • Re:Uh, maybe... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:12PM (#41612721) Homepage

      Indeed.

      More seriously, though, China has its own spy satellites and certainly has detailed aerial imagery of Taiwan probably in excess of the quality available to commercial imaging satellites. This information being known to the public isn't really going to change anything -- it's not like the average person is going to be able to do anything to a radar installation on a military base.

      • by shmlco (594907)

        Ditto. Anyone with the reason and the capability to do anything about the radar installation already has access to satellite imagery that far surpasses that of Maps.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Right. However, this is a public acknowledgement of Taiwan having a secret military base. China publicly blasts Taiwan in the media all the time, but is mostly ok with the current state of things behind closed doors. I wouldn't be surprised if China ends up making some sort of show about this, just to save face.

      • Re:Uh, maybe... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:48PM (#41613645)

        More seriously, though, China has its own spy satellites and certainly has detailed aerial imagery of Taiwan probably in excess of the quality available to commercial imaging satellites. This information being known to the public isn't really going to change anything -- it's not like the average person is going to be able to do anything to a radar installation on a military base.

        You don't say? [kitsapsun.com]
        How about an above average militant? [yahoo.com]

        There is quite a leap from protester (or militant) with access to low resolution imagery and state military with access to state-launched spy satellite high resolution imagery. For instance, the state military is unlikely to launch an attack unless the leadership of that country has decided instigate a de facto war. The "average person," on the other hand, has little other means for obtaining details concerning internal security fences, obscured lines of sight, illuminated and non-illuminated areas, etc. The sort of information that you'd need to plan an infiltration in advance.

        There is quite a difference, but you either fail to appreciate it or do not care. Military personnel both appreciate the difference and care. Most people with a passing knowledge of military history apprecite the difference and care.

        So... no.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Most of the "satellite" view is not from satellites.
        • by Rich0 (548339)

          I'm sure that if China wanted lower-level aerial footage of the base they could have it. Taiwan isn't that big - I'm sure aircraft pass over most of it all the time, and you don't have to pass directly over a location to take a photo.

          Plus, I'd think the more sensitive thing about a fancy radar station would be its emissions, and those aren't exactly easy to hide if it can scan targets on the far side of China (though no doubt they operate it differently in peacetime).

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            If you think back to the Cold War, that's why the U.S.S.R. and U.S. would probe the other side. Send a single plane into the airspace, and sure the radars would light it up, and the alert crews would be launched. Next time, send a few, or from a different direction...always looking for gaps in coverage.

      • by Dr. Evil (3501)

        Maybe this is just an inflatable facility. Requesting it be blurred a *little* makes it seem more realistic.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_tank [wikipedia.org]

    • by gsgriffin (1195771) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:20PM (#41612809)
      Can't find the secret bases in Taiwan...just look for the blurred areas...done.
    • Re:Uh, maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:44PM (#41613079) Homepage Journal

      The images of a base showed up, so they gave everyone the specs and capabilities of the radar system in their request to hide the base again? That doesn't seem very clever.

      You know, there may be at least a very small chance that they were not entirely forthcoming when they disclosed the capabilities and purpose of the facility in question...

    • Those poor 2-stars generals, first it's the cows [dailychilli.com] that attack and expose their secret base.

      Now Apple does the same.

    • Dear Taiwan,

      if you tell us where all your secret bases are we'll make sure they are blurred. Send us an email with coordinates.

      Apple

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:58PM (#41612523)

    Silly Taiwanese people. You don't request Apple for anything. You beg. You pray. You hope. But you DON'T speak to The Apple unless spoken to by The Apple. Commoners!

  • My guess is that the mainline Chinese already know all about it. I wouldn't sweat it.

  • Well, if the hardware is made in Chine, what makes anybody think they are not using Chinese developers as well. Perhaps was not so accidental.
  • by chinton (151403) <chinton001-slash ... .com minus berry> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:04PM (#41612613) Journal
    At least Apple Maps revealed something that was actually there.
    • Well said. Just yesterday it could not locate a bank ATM in a building I was parked outside of. Then I had to follow it's lead up to the actual bank about 2 miles away. Thanks to great cooking by Mr. Cook.
      • by monzie (729782)
        You don't know how to use iOS Maps correctly. Just like you weren't holding your iPhone 4 correctly. Dont' you know secret military bases have ATM's ? Apple just showed you an ATM were there's a less chance of a queue...
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:07PM (#41612651)

    Headline makes it sound like Apple made some sort of error and gave aid and comfort to an enemy... somewhere.

    The base happens to be there in a photo. Owners of base are asking for it to be blurred. Your slow news day will now come to a close. (cue national anthem)

    • by Scowler (667000)

      Apple clickbait is the only thing keeping slashdot threads going these days. (Well, that and anything relating to "outrageous" copyright enforcement.)

  • Apple is going to offer a new section on the App store called "Apps for Spys"...

  • by Tanman (90298) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:20PM (#41612805)

    In other news, a giant art sculpture designed to be visible from space located in the northernmost reaches of Siberia is mysteriously blurry when viewed from the latest satellite photography through Apple's new maps application.

  • Streisand Effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roogna (9643) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:30PM (#41612909)

    Is it me, or is blurring/removing something from these maps the absolute ideal way to tell the entire world: "There's something really important to someone here."

    I can see the conversation now. "How do I get to the Secret Base?" -- "Take a left and follow the road until it disappears on your map, then you're there."

    • People who care already know there's something really important there. What they may not know is the precise building/street layout.

      • by jspoon (585173)
        Thing is the only people who care (PRC) have their own satellites, probably more of them than anyone but the US and Russia. And you can bet they've photographed every inch of Taiwan. China's problem, then, is NOT to get images but to identify locations worthy of further attention. It could save them a lot of time to go on google maps and scan for areas with blurring or just suspiciously low resolution. Note that this is a different situation from not wanting to let non-state actors i.e. terrorists get a lo
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Which makes it perfect for misdirection.

      Taiwan: "Apple, you must immediately remove all images of this minor air-defense outpost."
      Apple: "OK. Hey everyone, we just removed images of this air-defense outpost"
      Everyone looks at the shiny forbidden images
      Nobody looks at the reinforced missile silos they were actually trying to hide

    • It's not just you. I'm a little disappointed I haven't seen the uncensored images in the comments here yet.

      Here you go [pcmag.com] Maybe TFA had images that were blocked by my browser. Either way, the photos are now far more visible than they were originally.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I haven't been able to find the original images yet, but i'm pretty sure that the 'air base' satellite images on most of the sites are totally wrong. From a bit of research it looks like it's much more sensibly located on a big hill here:
        http://goo.gl/maps/H3aRr

        The main hints being the photo here:
        http://fareasternpotato.blogspot.co.uk/2012_02_01_archive.html
        And military intelligence type sites referring to it as 'Leshan Mountain' rather than 'near Hsinchu'.

        Sadly the Google images are rather low res and I do

    • Is it me, or is blurring/removing something from these maps the absolute ideal way to tell the entire world: "There's something really important to someone here."

      Usually it's not even worth bothering to hide the fact that something important is there, the fences and armed guards are sufficient to that task. (The sub base just a few miles from me has it's own exit off the highway - complete with a standard green highway sign and the name of the base.) The goal is to either avoid revealing what that importa

    • Is it me, or is blurring/removing something from these maps the absolute ideal way to tell the entire world: "There's something really important to someone here."

      Or it could just be a decoy military site.

      After all, the British and the Germans both had their own decoy sites [wikipedia.org] during World War II.

      So why wouldn't Tawain have theirs too?

      After all, if the cows that breached their security perimeter [dailychilli.com] couldn't even be silenced afterwards, then perhaps there was no one there to even guard the place, or to threaten the cows into not talking to the press about what they had seen.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Take a hint from The Simpsons. Trillion dollar satellites can't find anything unless it is on the roof. Time to invest in some cheap metal buildings.
      • by russotto (537200)

        Take a hint from The Simpsons. Trillion dollar satellites can't find anything unless it is on the roof. Time to invest in some cheap metal buildings.

        That's not going to work so well for the business end of a radar system.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      "How do I get to the Secret Base?" -- "Take a left and follow the road until it disappears on your map, then you're there."

      Based on this info using Apple maps I've concluded there are approximately one thousand secret bases in my city alone.

  • I am guessing that Taiwan is worried about China. But I bet they very well know that China does not depend on Apple/Google maps. China probably has a much higher resolution pic of the base and few dudes already working within the base as well. Therefore, the nature of worry is just akin to Cheney's worry about his property on google maps and his hallucinations that Russians have locked on to his property's coordinates by looking at Google earth.
  • Apple Maps? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:11PM (#41613887)

    No problem. The correct location of the base will never be found.

  • North Korea has perfected the art of tunnelling, and covering up what is going on from eyes in the sky. They need not worry about satellites photographing their secret places. Is that better or worse for us? Richard
  • It's ludicrous to think that China was unaware of this base.
  • Damage is done, it is not a secret anymore.

  • did anyone notice that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_map_images_with_missing_or_unclear_data [wikipedia.org] lists all these sites, and for instance bing maps also show them unblurred?

    http://binged.it/TzUX8b [binged.it]
    http://binged.it/TzVG9k [binged.it]
    http://binged.it/T7LC1Y [binged.it]
    http://binged.it/T7LHmx [binged.it]

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