Australia asks Google to block users 'walking' sacred site

by Reuters
Wednesday, 23 September 2020 09:55 GMT

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets on Uluru (Ayers Rock), about 350 kilometres (220 miles) south west of the central Australian town of [Alice Springs] April 19 2004.

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Indigenous communities who successfully campaigned for the sacred site to be closed to climbers hope to remove virtual hikers

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Australia has asked Google to remove photographs of the top of the sacred Indigenous site, Uluru, a tool that allowed users to appear to walk on its summit.

Australia in 2019 closed Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, after a decades-long campaign by indigenous communities to protect it.

Parks Australia, which is responsible for the national park where Uluru is located, said Google images contains photographs of the sacred site, which effectively defies the ban.

"Parks Australia...requested that the content be removed in accordance with the wishes of Anangu, Uluru's traditional owners, and the national park's guidelines," a spokeswoman for the governing body said.

The Anangu people, the traditional owners of Uluru, have called for the climb to be closed since 1985, when the park was placed in indigenous hands, due to its spiritual significance as a route their ancestors took.

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters, but a spokesman told local media the company has removed the images.

"As soon as Parks Australia raised their concerns about this user contribution, we removed the imagery," a Google spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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