Google executive admits gun don’t kill people, people kill people

I nearly fell out of my seat when I read this. From the an article at The Age (emphasis mine):

In January, John Hanke, the director in charge of Google Earth and Google Maps, hit back at the claims, saying terrorists would still carry out their attacks with or without Google’s help.

“I don’t really think it’s tipping the balance in favour of the bad guys,” Hanke said.

“The evilness is in the philosophies and the desires of those that want to do evil. They will use the tools at hand to do that, whether it’s throwing a Molotov cocktail, or shooting a rifle or using some piece of technology as part of the process.

Wow! I had to read it twice just to make sure it was not mis-reading it. Google has taken a very dim view on gun related websites in the past. For example, Google advertisements are banned on websites selling firearms.

This actually is the perfect example of “XYZ don’t kill people, people kill people”. Most people love Google Earth and Google Maps, and they love them despite the fact that they are probably used by terrorists planning attacks.

There is currently a debate in the UK about Google Earth showing a top secret nuke submarine base. It sounds to me like there is a bureaucratic problem where government workers don’t want to / can’t pass on military base coordinates to Google, but on the other hand don’t want the images showing up.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Phil Ward

    You know, I saw the base pictures in the papers the other day, and I can’t help but think that nobody would have noticed if the journalists hadn’t drawn attention to it. Still, its nice to see that google realise that some people are “evil” and will use whatever tools are at hand.

  • Don

    the google people are generally pretty smart folks.

  • Freiheit


    The journo’s picked it up because the rest of the internet did. Its known as the Streisand Effect. What happened is that:

    1) Google did its thing and posted the best satellite images available
    2) The boys down at the Royal Navy noticed one of their bases
    3) Royal Navy whined about it, not sure if it was public or direct to big G
    4) Internet found out and immediately went to go see. After all freaking nuclear submaries are neat!
    5) Journalists picked it up because if the internet is doing it, it must be newsworthy

    Some of the better coverage of WHY its newsworthy and that its bullshit to have anyone pull theses images is because most of the info one needs to plan some sort of attack is public anyway. TheRegister did a decent job lampooning the request at:

    For background on the Streisand Effect see:

  • I would bet that Hanke didn’t realize he essentially said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I could be wrong, but that side of the argument just seems to ignore the obvious most of the times.

    If he truly believes what he said, good for him.

  • null

    Want to know what is ironic? The images on of the Faslane area are much higher resolution than Google’s.

  • Ryo

    I actually work at Google, and you’d be surprised at how many of us are not only gun owners (and obviously pro-gun), but openly/vocally so. I can’t speak about the company’s policies, but it’s not necessarily ideologically driven. I’ve heard that eBay and PayPal’s “anti-gun” policies are there more for legal reasons than ideological reasons. Having worked at large corporations, that sounds plausible to me since big companies are far more interested in covering their legal asses (and making money) than taking a political or moral stance.