Norway blocks Apple from taking aerial photos of Oslo

The Norwegian government is reportedly blocking Apple from taking aerial photos of Oslo needed to create 3D images of the cityscape for its maps app.

The refusal stems from concerns about universal access to detailed views of state buildings, local newspaper Aftenposten has said.

Anyone who wishes to fly over Oslo to take pictures is required to gain a license from the authorities, Apple's application has been refused.

The company has built a fleet of military grade drones to take the pictures. 3D imagery of UK cities including London and Manchester is already available through the app.

The order to refuse the licence has come from Norway's National Security Authority which is particularly keen to prevent images being taken of military buildings.The agency is using a pre-existing law that prohibits external photography of the buildings against Apple.

Security in Norway has been significantly tightened since the far right terrorist Anders Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo before shooting a large number of children attending an island youth camp.

"We do not want it to be shot with such a high degree of precision that it could be used to identify areas that require special shielding," Øyvind Mandt of the National Security Authority (NSM) told Aftenposten.

Other companies, including Nokia, have been allowed to take photos by flying over Oslo, but only parts of the city have been covered.

Oslo's mayor Fabian Stang reportedly supports Apple's bid to photograph the city arguing that it could help boost tourism in the city, he is said to be discussing the issue with Norway's defence minister.

2D aerial imagery of Oslo taken through satellite is already available on Apple maps and Google Maps. As this method does not involve flying in Norwegian airspace, the government has no power to stop the images being taken.