A blunder by search engine Google’s Japanese arm saw detailed maps of two airports in the country, including restricted areas, publicly shared to its users. Google accidentally shared the sensitive information regarding the airports’ maps via the Google Groups sharing service after changing the privacy settings of the emails it received to “Public.”
Those included are the Central Japan International Airport, near Nagoya, and the New Chitose Airport near Sapporo. Both are used commercially and by the government’s Self-Defense Forces. While the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota has since assured the public of the safety of the airports, saying that “Restricted areas have been strictly guarded, so we don’t see any risk of immediate abuse,” he advised other airports to safeguard security data well to avoid possible terrorists from taking advantage. Google Japan already issued an apology for the accident.
The airport maps incident is not the first time highly confidential emails have been shared to the public. In July last year, emails regarding international negotiations on mercury trading could be accessed by anyone due to a mailing list created by the Environment Ministry. It included communication on bilateral talks with Switzerland and Norway. Upon knowledge of the matter, the ministry immediately deleted all the messages.