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Countries are well aware that the possession of satellite remotely sensed data and the ability to analyze them gives others power to affect their resource development. Data from the meteorological satellites are generally not in question because they are low resolution and are widely perceived by other countries to be of little use in exploiting a country’s resources. Private ownership of a land remote-sensing system may heighten suspicions that such data would be used to enable interests outside the sensed country to gain a competitive advantage, or that information on crop conditions or military activities of States might be sold preferentially to political adversaries.
The developing countries are particularly concerned about this issue, since many lack the indigenous ability to analyze the data. Their concerns over remote-sensing data are directly linked to similar concerns over access to information of all kinds as well as their ability to use it.
Some countries maintain that they should have priority access to data derived from the sensing of their territory, while others have argued that their consent should be obtained before these data are transferred to third parties. These states base their claims on the political-legal concept of national sovereignty over resources.