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Taiwan concerned Apple Maps is 'too accurate'

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The Taiwanese government is planning to ask US consumer technology giant Apple to blur out satellite images of its new radar facility over security concerns.

Many users of Apple's new Maps application have been calling for the firm to sharpen up the details and accuracy in the beleaguered service that has replaced Google Maps on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

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However, the exact opposite call has been coming from some governments and authorities over the satellite images of secure facilities around the world that show, in their view, too much detail on devices freely available to the public.

Concern has already been raised over Apple's images of a maximum security prison in Turkey, the United States' Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and a military airstrip on the Japanese island of Minamitorishima.

Now, the Taiwan Defence Ministry intends to ask Apple to blur out the images of its new $1.4 billion (£875 million) early-warning radar facility in the northern county Hsinchu.

Only around 4% of users of the latest iOS 6 operating system are thought to be using Apple Maps, but that is considered still too much exposure for sensitive military and government information.

The Defence Ministry reacted after the Liberty Times newspaper printed a satellite picture showing the top secret long-range radar base, which it said had been downloaded using an iPhone 5.

In a statement to Associated Press, Taiwan Defence Ministry spokesperson David Lo said: "Regarding images taken by commercial satellites, legally we can do nothing about it.

"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."

He added: "Apple should follow its rival Google in using only low-resolution satellite pictures."

Google blurs out satellite images of high-security locations in its Google Earth service, and will also listen to requests to do so.

It is understood that Apple has not yet received a formal request from Taiwan to blur out the satellite images, and it is unclear how the company will respond if it does.

Apple has been beset with criticism over its Maps application since it was released last month, prompting chief executive Tim Cook to apologise to users and even suggest they shift to alternative services, such as Google or Nokia Maps.

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