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India Forms Expert Group on Google Earth Images 217

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the put-it-in-a-shed dept.
Digital Inspiration writes "According to Yahoo News, the Indian Government, 'concerned over satellite images of its strategic installations being made available in the public domain by internet search engine Google, has decided to constitute an expert group to suggest ways to safeguard the country's interests.' Earlier, The President of India expressed concerns that terrorists could use Google Earth to plan assaults on the Indian parliament, the President's house and government offices in New Delhi, all of which show up clearly in Google Earth's photos. Google Earth has expressed its readiness to have discussions with the Government regarding the issue."
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India Forms Expert Group on Google Earth Images

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  • mmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by mallmall (110958) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:07PM (#14336423)
    we can finally find their hidden birdie num-nums
  • Area 51 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by k00110 (932544) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:07PM (#14336425)
    Time for Indians to use Area 51 techniques, put things under the ground, problem fixed.
    • Re:Area 51 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by balster neb (645686) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @03:28PM (#14336674)
      The building in questions aren't exactly the type that can be hidden underground. The buildings they want obscured include residences of the Prime Minister, the President, as well as various nuclear and military facilities. The concern is, among other things, that the satellite images will reveal the location and nature of the defences around these buildings.

      Similar blocking is done for the White House and the Capitol building in the US (at least for Google Maps, I haven't checked Google Earth).
      • Re:Area 51 (Score:3, Informative)

        by jacksonj04 (800021)
        It's also done in Google Earth. The White House has a 3D model as does a lot of Washington, but on photo view the roof is whited out completely.
      • Re:Area 51 (Score:4, Funny)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:41PM (#14337709) Journal
        include residences of the Prime Minister

        I'm an Australian, and I'd be very happy if our Prime Minister was under the ground.
      • UFO Logic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ebuck (585470)
        Anyone that wants to find such a building doesn't have to resort to Google Maps. Google Maps will just print out a pretty online picuture.

        I mean, the address of the White House was been well known for the past 100 years, and no city map of Washington D.C. fails to list it. It's been featured in song, the title of a film, and a trivial pursuit question for decades. I imagine that any Indian seat of power (residence or professional building) is equally as well known within the city's limits (and possibly n
    • Re:Area 51 (Score:2, Funny)

      by Gwyn_232 (585793)
      They should wait until Google Maps is updated, and then move all the buildings around.
  • by affliction (242524) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:08PM (#14336428) Homepage
    When will they realize that just because it's blurred out in the picture, doesn't mean the building disappeared?
    • by Decaff (42676) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:11PM (#14336442)
      When will they realize that just because it's blurred out in the picture, doesn't mean the building disappeared?

      It just means someone was taking it away real fast.
    • Bull, this has nothing to do with security, the real reason is that the leaders of India don't want the people of India to see how they live in huge mansions on drawn out estates while the vast majority of the country lives on under $1000 per year.

    • When will they realize that just because it's blurred out in the picture, doesn't mean the building disappeared?

      Yes, and even worse for them, the original map didn't disappear. At least if they're going for "Google Earth images" and Google's service. They're just reusing already public material.
  • by mattyohe (517995) <matt,yohe&gmail,com> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:08PM (#14336429)
    Submitter, don't put something in quotes if you have paraphrased it or changed it. You completely changed what that article says. Your subject says one thing and then the content says another.

    Actual Quote from Article: "Concerned over satellite images of its strategic installations being made available in the public domain by internet search engine Google, India has decided to constitute an expert group to suggest ways to safeguard the country's interests."

    • While he did misquote it, the meaning wasn't changed because he put 'the Indian government,' before that.
      • He didn't misquote it. He used single quotes, which are what you would use if you slightly paraphrased a sentence. If you paraphrased it substantially then you would not quote (though you would still cite the source unless it was common knowledge). If you did not paraphrase at all, but used it verbatim, then you use double quotes.
        • He used single quotes, which are what you would use if you slightly paraphrased a sentence.

          That's a common misconception. In fact, quotes and paraphrasing don't mix. Anything you enclose in quotes must be completely unaltered (unless you use square brackets). Single quotes are used only for nesting one quotation within another.

          See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], for example: "It is generally considered incorrect to use quotation marks for paraphrased speech" (and that is a real direct quote).

        • He didn't misquote it. He used single quotes, which are what you would use if you slightly paraphrased a sentence.

          I'm a professional editor, and this is the first time I've heard this "rule". Please give me a reference so I can get current with this new usage.

          Or alternatively, admit you made it up. Whether you use single or double quotes is mainly a manner of style, (British prefer single, Americans double in most cases); the meaning is ALWAYS the exact words spoken or written.

  • Call this office and tell them you will NOT be building your next call center in India if they keep trying to censor the Internet!

    Office of the Development Commissioner
    Kandla Special Economic Zone
    Ministry of Commerce & Industry Government of India
    Gandhidham-370 230
    Gujarat
    Phone: 02836- 52194, 52475, 52273
    Fax: 02836- 52250
    • Sorry but this is legit.. you really could plan things using Google Earth. All they would need to do is blur it out. Don't hide it's there, but make it so you can't use the map to plot against it.

      That way the maps still accurate, but it's the difference between "Take the second left, third right, fourth right and then knock on the door theme times" and "it's some where over there".
      • Bah. The terrorists don't have the brains or the balls to do this.
        Those Al Qaeda pussies tremble in their pig-skin boots when they think about the Indian military and government powers!

        I dare them to try a massive attack against the Indian government, infrastructure, and all those juicy tech centers.
        I double dare them.
        I triple dog dare them.

        There. I did it. The fabled triple dog dare from the Christmas Story, right here for all the world to see. If those terrorists don't take that one, well ... well, we
      • by be-fan (61476) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @06:44PM (#14337213)
        Exactly! Those terrorists have millions of dollars in funding, access to all sorts of cold war technology, have managed to orchastrate an intricate plot involving the simultanious hijacking of several American airliners, have managed to destroy the World Trade Center and damage the Pentagon, but they absolutely depend on Google *fricking* Earth for their maps! Please!
        • Those terrorists have millions of dollars in funding, access to all sorts of cold war technology, have managed to orchastrate an intricate plot involving the simultanious hijacking of several American airliners, have managed to destroy the World Trade Center and damage the Pentagon, but they absolutely depend on Google *fricking* Earth for their maps!

          The liberal media cabal is covering up the *Alpha* release of Google Maps/Earth, which was tested from 2000-2002 by Osama Bin Laden himself. Google sat on it f
    • Call this office and tell them you will NOT be building your next call center in India if they keep trying to censor the Internet!

      I tried to call the Ministry to complain, but I ended up talking to some chick with a thick Brooklyn accent and neither one of us could understand what the other was saying.

    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:30PM (#14336487) Journal
      Really? And how is what India wants anything different from what the US has already got?

      Go to Google Maps. Try to look at the White House and the surrounding area. You'll see that a great deal of detail has been obscured, precisely because of the security concerns.

      Just like the US, India has suffered at the hands of internationally-sponsored terrorism. Unlike the US, its actually had the misfortune of having its parliament and parliamentary officials attacked. And Indians have far more first-hand experience of being the brunt of terrorism than the US has had too. Google for the facts if you don't believe me.

      India has legitimate security concerns here. Discussing how those concerns are best dealt with in a cooperative manner, as India has chosen to do, rather than confrontational one, as others have opted for in the past, is to be commended rather than condemned.
      • Go to Google Maps. Try to look at the White House and the surrounding area. You'll see that a great deal of detail has been obscured, precisely because of the security concerns.

        Damn. Now if I want to do evil there, I'll have to wait forty seconds for one of the Discovery channels to do a documentary that includes way closer-up pictures.
        • From what I have read, the Google Maps images of the White House, etc have been deliberately obscured because, amongst other things, they divulged the positions of the Secret Service on the roofs of those buildings.

          Somehow I rather doubt that the footage on the Discovery channels includes that information but feel free to argue that it does.
          • From what I have read, the Google Maps images of the White House, etc have been deliberately obscured because, amongst other things, they divulged the positions of the Secret Service on the roofs of those buildings.

            If an aerial photo is that dangerous, the Secret Service needs to redesign their coverage.

            Pretty soon, it's going to be highly impractical to prevent amateur aerial photography. It's not that expensive to build a radio-controlled plane with a camera. As soon as someone releases a general purpose
      • by MrWa (144753)
        Go to Google Maps. Try to look at the White House and the surrounding area. You'll see that a great deal of detail has been obscured, precisely because of the security concerns.

        Good. Now go download Google Earth and see what you are missing.

    • by anand78 (832850)
      Outsourcing brings the jobs that the people in USA don't want to do. You will realize that in the address above that it belong to one of the Economic zones. Besides why don't you allow access to Connecticut on google Maps. If the indian subcontinent is volatile why the fuck would you give another tool to the Terrorists.
      • why the fuck would you give another tool to the Terrorists.

        Because it's not just "a tool to the Terrorists", it's also an important tool for research. For example, unrestricted Google Earth might well allow researchers to uncover government corruption and deception, both in the US and abroad.

        In any case, all of this is just a temporary issue anyway; over the next decade, anybody will be able to get high resolution aerial photography of anything, whether the government allows it or not. So, the military be
  • by i41Overlord (829913) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:09PM (#14336435)
    After hearing concerns voiced by every government on Earth, Google has agreed to only show satellite images of the oceans. This is to prevent terrorists from using sensitive data revealed by the images.
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:10PM (#14336437) Homepage
    While I understand the concerns of the Indian government, I question the viability of this in the long run. Security through obscurity [wikipedia.org] is at best a short term fix. If their sites can be attacked simply by knowing the above ground layout, one has to question the overall security of those installations. What's to stop a terrorist from simply getting the photos from another source? Perhaps through aerial photography? If Google agrees to help, I hope the Indian government will take the time to implement some genuine security that's not so vulnerable. Perhaps it's time for security people to experiment with the idea of peer-review?
    • What's to stop a terrorist from simply getting the photos from another source? Perhaps through aerial photography?

      Watching satellite pictures of sensitive areas through Google is slightly more anonymous than buying them from specialised companies. I'm sure well-organised terrorist organisations can get them anyway, but there are also plenty of amateurish wannabe terrorists, and online satellite images make things that much easier for them. Governments are right to be concerned.

    • bad analogy (Score:3, Informative)

      The term "security through obscurity" is a technical term that refers specifically to keeping protocols and algorithms of a cryptographic system secret. Trying to extend that concept to mean "anything that is kept secret" is overextending its meaning. Even standard cryptographic systems rely on keeping things "obscure"--like the key, for example.

      The question of whether satellite data of military installations needs to be kept secret is something that warrants a separate discussion. I think that eventuall
    • Security through obscurity is at best a short term fix.

      Your statement suggests a superficial understanding of security. There is nothing wrong with obscurity. It is merely one of *many* tactics that should be employed *simultaneously*. Problems arise when someone relies predominately on only one tactic, whether the one tactic is obscurity or something else doesn't really matter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:10PM (#14336438)
    Google wouldn't put the same pics of US installations would it? So it should treat the Indians with the same amount of respect and consideration.
    • Absolutely! And Google Images should remove all images of female ankles, lest it go afoul of Saudi law. We deal with this same issue on Wikimedia. Certain religious books are under perpetual copyright in the UK. However, they're still available through WikiSource (with warnings about reuse in the UK), because we are only bound by US law.
  • by bitspotter (455598) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:15PM (#14336452) Journal
    Just have them write an "X-No-Archive:" header on their lawn, specifiying the dimensions not to include.

    Hey, it works for Google web search and Groups!
    • Yellow circles in a particular pattern might just do it. At least you wouldn't be able to print the pictures.
    • a better idea is to place a file called map.txt in every building and tell which part should be allowed to be mapped and which part not to be mapped. All sites or part of the sites to be allowed (disallowed) should clearly be written with the heading "Allow:" ("Disallow:") . Also, we should make all satellites to respect map.txt :).
  • Hm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:17PM (#14336457) Homepage
    I don't see why just blurring out the images or putting giant black boxes over them won't work. If they really wanted to be devious, they could even switch the places around on the map (i.e. 180 degrees of rotation, then mirrored over X or Y axis), add 'fake' security measures to make the building look impenetrable, etc. Google is willing to do it, India is willing to do it, problem solved.
    • Re:Hm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Cydonian (603441) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:45PM (#14336535) Homepage Journal
      You know, it just occurred to me reading your post, but that's exactly what the Indian army did during the Pokhran II blasts! They studied sand dune patterns in the Thar desert and actually mimicked them during the 20 or so days they were testing nuclear weapons in 1998. Apparently, it was highly successful; unlike 1995, we caught American spy agencies completely unaware of what's going on.

      In that context, it is indeed a historical irony that India has had to actively form a security group on this matter.

      • But see, that was for a short while - in order for them to continue to blur out the installations 24/7/365, it would indeed take a lot of effort.

        So, they figured that talking to Google is a better alternative.
        • Sure, of course; my views on this matter were basically that, while I don't really believe in security through obscurity, there's no reason why India shouldn't be allowed to obscure some imagery, just as the US has been able to. I wasn't really commenting on the story as such, just made a tangential point.
          • Ahh, gotcha. Of course, I completely agree with you. Then again, if Google maps can see it, then am sure a spy orgainzation can quite easily, too. :)
  • The recent threats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vivekg (795441) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:22PM (#14336465) Homepage Journal
    The recent threat might be the one of causes [bbc.co.uk] and then some one send an an email threat to blow up Parliament [indianexpress.com].
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:24PM (#14336470)
    ...is that other governments haven't expressed concern about this. A few months ago, I checked out the photos of my last duty station, NAS Atlanta. The resolution was good enough that you could make out rows of tiny green dots criscrossing the flight line -- Marines on their morning FOD walkdown.

    Considering all the ridiculous things the Shrub administration has done in its so-called "war on terruh", you'd think they'd at least strategically blur satellite photos of our military installations. Lord knows, they'd like to blur that porn you were jerking off to last night. But we all know they would never ask an American business to stop distributing its products in the name of stopping terruh. Regulating capitalism is unamerican! It's just more evidence to me that they are not really interested in protecting our troops and citizens... unless it somehow profits them or increases their control.

  • by nnnneedles (216864) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:31PM (#14336494)
    Imagine, if the terrists had access to....a MAP!

    • by atanas (941327)
      This whole thing is blown waaaay out of proportion, which plays great in Google's court. Nobody seems to want to understand that Google put online images that were already publicly available elsewhere. Get it? Google didn't take the photos. Google didn't declassify them. Google just repackaged them and reposted them. If only I could generate this much controversy by republishing others' information...
    • What if terrorists could read. Seriously, though Indian government is doing what every other government in this position would do, divert attention. With rise in poverty, govt failing to provide people with potable water, electricity, housing, health care and not to mention the high rate of unemployment. The best, perhaps the wisest move on the part of Indian governemtn would be diverting from the issue so that the common man in India does not realize how he/she has been taken for a ride by the gove in t
  • No real solution, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Perseid (660451)
    These satellites have been up there for some time, and they're not government satellites, they're commercial satellites. This means that any terrorist with enough money could see an image of whatever they want to bomb, Google Earth or not.

    I beleive it's time governments figure out a solution to the problem that doesn't involve the reversal of technology. Because it isn't going to get any better for them from here on in.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:37PM (#14336509)

    Anything that a satellite way up there in orbit can take a picture of, a remote-controlled plane with camera attached can take a photo of. Trying to stop terrorists having this information is insanity. India need to come up with security that assumes the terrorists already have this information.

    • The Indian government is just looking out for its employees. It wants to make sure terrorists can't get information about the stuff they leave sitting around outside without slipping a guy that works on the loading dock twenty bucks. Those guys depend on that income, and Google's screwing them out of it.
  • stupid premise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xavier CMU (829477) <{xavier.riley} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:39PM (#14336514)
    google earth is just a program that aggregates a ton of information. All of this information is easily accessibly via other avenues [terraserver.com]. So just talking to google about this problem doesn't do anything at all really, if a terrorist is even slightly resourceful and can type "sattelite imagery" into google search, he can have instant access to the same pictures google earth provides. there really is no point to having these "talks".
  • In 20 years, airplanes will need to seal their windows to prevent security breaches. No more looking outside.

    Sad really.
    • In 20 years, airplanes will need to seal their windows to prevent security breaches. No more looking outside. Sad really.

      Windows are obsolete. People will be using their individual flat panel displays. They will select a view (camera) just like they select the music channel. Everybody gets a view, everybody can see the "sight" visible from only one side, etc. The cameras can be *temporarily* shutdown if security necessitates it.
  • by boa13 (548222) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:43PM (#14336529) Homepage Journal
    While I haven't verified this myself, and can't provide links to confirm this, a good friend of mine says that when Google first launched Google Maps with worldwide coverage, he looked at a nearby French military base and was surprised that everything was plainly visible -- buildings, airport lanes, maybe some vehicles. When he checked again a few months later, things were blanked out. It seems someone somewhere made the appropriate phone calls.

    So, Google is willing to help governments hide sensitive locations, and I would be surprised India gets a different treatment -- it's just a matter of providing the appropriate info.

    Hopefully, this won't get abused (blank countries, anyone?), but so far with the U.S.A. and at least France, such blanking has been done with the right balance.
  • Have you ever belonged to a pet cat?

    Did you ever take it to the vet?

    Did you try to put it into a little box to get it to the vet?


    Take the hint. If your precious secret hidey-holes and pillow-forts have such glaring vulnerabilities that a picture of them from above would help terrorists, you have MUCH bigger problems than keeping your cat from clawing the hell out of you in the car.
  • For a while, Google Maps and most of the other aerial services had been induced to paint over images of the roof of the White House with a solid brown. [thousandrobots.com] But today, that seems to be back to normal.

    And the really annoying blurring of the entire Capitol Building complex has been removed.

    The White House blurring was particularly pointless. You can go up to the top of the Washington Monument and take good pictures of the White House roof, and hundreds of tourists do that every day.

    It's good to see some of

  • Just get Google to insert some cloud cover, since there already appear to be areas hidden by clouds. Since my home is covered by clouds in the Google photos, maybe it sugests that the is something to hide near ;)
  • When will people learn.

    Security through obscurity rarely works.
    • When will people learn. Security through obscurity rarely works.

      "When will people learn?" is the correct question. However your statement then goes on to demonstrate a superficial understanding of security. There is nothing wrong with obscurity. It is merely one of *many* tactics that should be employed *simultaneously*. Problems arise when someone relies predominately on only one tactic, whether the one tactic is obscurity or something else doesn't really matter. Today, I hoped you learned that slashdo
      • Thank you for your Humbe Opinion(TM).

        However, you failed to recognize the rhetorical nature of my statement.

        Note the intentional choice of puntuation. A period as opposed to a question-mark.

        "When will people learn," was more akin to me dipping my head in frustration. "When _will_ people learn?"

        I am well versed in the concept of security through obscurity, as obviously are you. The problem does not lie--but is precisely beacuse--Governments and Organizations predominantly want to rely on obscurity to prov
    • No it isn't..

      Not in Archive.

      The page you requested has not been archived. If the page is still available on the Internet, we will begin archiving it during our next crawl. Try another request or click here to search for all pages on fas.org/nuke/guide/india/target/index.html/
      See the FAQs for more info and help, or contact us.

  • Israel? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quixote (154172) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @03:07PM (#14336602) Homepage Journal
    The only difference here is that India doesn't have a lobby as strong as Israel's. By US law, a satellite company cannot show high-res images of Israel.
    • Re:Israel? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846)
      To be fair, how many countries get attacked on a daily basis with rockets? They also have to worry about news reports that inadvertently tell the bad guys how to adjust their fire. Britain had a similar problem during World War II with German rockets.
    • Re:Israel? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geoff lane (93738)
      However you can buy images from France and Russia so that's no real protection.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @03:13PM (#14336614) Homepage Journal
    Rather than being able to see the super-secret installation, they'll see a big black box there? Indicating to them that there's either a super-secret installation there or a giant penis statue? So rather than seeing more buildings and having to decide if they're interesting or not, they'll know that there IS in fact something interesting at that site? And the guys who'd really be interested (Pakistan) don't need to know what's there, they can just lob a nuke in and level the whole area.

    Not that I could see Pakistan starting a nuclear exchange with India. If such an exchange were to occur and, say, 100 million were lost on both sides, India's remaining population would be .9 billion or so while Pakistan's would be in the negative numbers (IIRC, can't be bothered to look it up in the CIA world factbook.) And I'm stealing that quote more or less directly from an Indian government official who said the same thing.

  • ...lined with tinfoil, of course.
  • And I was thinking [blogspot.com], why should Google go out of its way to blur the Indian buildings ? You want your buildings blurred ? I say build them blurred in the first place... !
    On the same note, here are other solutions the Indian experts might want to consider:
    • Cover your nuclear reactors with huge shades, paint them with clouds from below and trees from above.
    • Paint your airport buildings roofs with reflective paint (effective in daylight sweeps only !)
    • Create a "building cover" by sewing together thousands of
  • Terrorists, quick, copy all the secret places using Print Screen key. :0)
  • Yeah... cuz they couldn't use a frickin ROAD MAP to find the damn buildings just as easy.
    Hell, I bet every tourist brochure for the capital has the locations of every government building on them. Not to mention most of the images are at least 3+ years old. WTF good are they now?
    Bunch of hubbub over nothing.
  • by smash (1351)
    Because of course, hiring a helicopter to fly over the area would just be far too expensive for a global organisation headed by a multi billionaire?

    Security through obscurity is not security at all.

    Anyone here should know that...

    smash.

  • To: S.B.S. Shekhawat, Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Parliament House, New Delhi.
    Re: Google Maps & Parliamentarly Security

    We have received your message expressing concern over the possibility that on-line services such as Google Maps and Google Earth may facilitate planning for those seeking to bring harm to the institutions of the national government.

    It is my misfortune to inform you that the cat is out of the bag, and the reasons for this are two:
    1) Pakistan has already purchased the necessary imagery from Fr
  • Google are buying maps that are publicly available, and displaying them without alteration in a freely available web page.

    If the providers of the maps were made to obscure their images, and Google were made to simply refresh their maps, then the Indian Government should be happy. Google aren't taking the satellite images after all, and anyone who really wanted the data could just go to the source if Google's images weren't good enough.

    The genie is well out of the bottle here.

    Google should be required to sim
  • Google Power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by storem (117912) on Monday December 26, 2005 @06:16AM (#14339013) Homepage
    Google shouldn't blur anything... or blur everything. Why would these Indian government buildings be more precious then my company's or my own home? What's next? Paying Google to blur areas as you see fit? Again, governments and companies are the only ones that can afford this. Ofcourse the intelligence community can buy these coordinates at a premium from their local Google store. Keeps them from spending time searching Google Earth from the blurs. PS: I never agreed someone to take pictures from my home, by sattelite or other means. Next time someone flies over, think twice when you notice the SA-15 Gauntlet SAM battery in the backyard! (You can buy everything in Russia, didn't you know?)

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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