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Tuesday Map: Georgia’s Google vanishing act

Google As if Georgia didn’t have enough to deal with, yesterday the country’s cities and transportation routes completely disappeared from Google Maps. Reportedly wanting to keep its cyber territory conflict-neutral, Google removed all of Georgia’s details from its maps, making the war-torn nation look like a ghostly white blob flanked by Russia and Turkey. Georgia, ...

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Google

As if Georgia didn’t have enough to deal with, yesterday the country’s cities and transportation routes completely disappeared from Google Maps. Reportedly wanting to keep its cyber territory conflict-neutral, Google removed all of Georgia’s details from its maps, making the war-torn nation look like a ghostly white blob flanked by Russia and Turkey. Georgia, though, isn’t the only country going blank on Google: neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan–who have their own ongoing terrorital dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region–are coming up empty too.

Some online commenters speculate that the allegiances of Google’s Russian-born co-founder Sergey Brin might have something to do with Georgia’s disappearance. That’s pretty doubtful, but it’s possible that Google doesn’t want their software used for military purposes.

But Google has helped out Georgia in one major way, providing (albeit “involuntarily”) Georgian sites with a “cyber-refuge” from Russian hackers. News service Civil Georgia as well as the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have started using the Google-owned site Blogger to post updates and press releases on the conflict.

 Update: Google denies that it has made any changes to the map:

“We do not have local data for those countries and that is why local details such as landmarks and cities do not appear.”

Looks like we may have gotten a bit ahead of ourselves, though as NYT‘s Miguel Helf notes, Google does seem to have plenty of “local data” about Georgia in its Google Earth program.

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