Faceoff: Iran to launch ‘Islamic Google Earth’

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Iran has planned to launch its own 3D mapping service after Tehran authorities long accused Google Earth of being a tool for western spy agencies, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

The Islamic Republic’s information and communication minister announced this week that his country was developing something he described as an “Islamic Google Earth” which should be ready to use in the “next four months.”

“Preparations have been made for launching our world's 3D map project and we are currently creating an appropriate data center which could be capable of processing this volume of information,” the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Mohammed Hassan Nami as saying.

Iran has often suspected that Western web services of snooping.
“We are doing our best to launch the Islamic Google Earth in the next four months as an Islamic republic's national portal, providing service on a global scale,” he added.

“On the surface, Google Earth is providing a service to users, but in reality security and intelligence organizations are behind it in order to obtain information from other countries,” Nami told reporters.

The minister did not elaborate on how Iran’s version of Google maps will differ or how it what made it ‘Islamic.’

“We are developing this service with the Islamic views we have in Iran and we will put a kind of information on our website that would take people of the world towards reality … Our values in Iran are the values of God and this would be the difference.”

Last year Iranian authorities claimed to have finished the first phase of a national internet, which will be aimed at replacing services run through the world-wide-web.

Recently, Iranian authorities have taken other measures to curb internet freedoms by blocking the use of most “virtual private networks”, a tool most of its population used to get around an extensive government Internet filter.

In Dec. 2012 Iran launched its own video-sharing website to compete against Google’s popular YouTube whose content is deemed inappropriate by the Islamic regime.

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