Search giant Google is drawing flak from India’s largest opposition party for its mapping contest which seeks to improve the Google maps service with crowd sourced information. The BJP wants criminal proceedings to be initiated against Google for violating the “sovereignty” of India and putting up sensitive map information online.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Tarun Vijay said, “Disregarding laws on security and mapping, Google has made access to institutions such as the Lok Sabha and different defense establishments public. Even the Survey of India doesn’t have the right to do so. Such maps are made only for special purposes.”
Google recently announced its Mapathon 2013 contest and asked people to map their locality using Google Mapmaker. Winners of mapathon stand to win Samsung tablets, phones, gift vouchers and goodies.
Vijay said that defense minister A K Antony expressed surprise when he was informed of the violations.
Google is a “habitual” offender, Vijay alleged. He said that the search Giant had put details of Indian Navy bases on Google earth before. “After that, Google showed Kashmir as a part of Pakistan and Arunachal as a part of China on Google maps,” he said.
Expressing BJP’S concern over national security, Vijay added that California based company did not comply with statutory norms through its Mapathon exercise. He added that Antony has assured of strict action against Google.
This is not the first time Google and the Indian government have been at loggerheads.
Earlier Google India maps showed parts of Arunachal Pradesh in Chinese language and the map showed Arunachal’s southern boundary with Assam and northern boundary with China in broken lines, while the state’s eastern and western boundaries with Bhutan and Myanmar are shown in continuous white lines.
Later Google clarified that the change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data. “We would like to clarify that this issue did not impact our depiction of international borders,” said Google at that time.
Previously, Google opined that governments and internationally recognized bodies often disagree over LOC issue, and our goal is to provide the most legible and accurate map.
In 2012, Government of India (GOI) proposed a legal provision that puts the onus uniformly on companies such as Skype and Google to locate part of their information technology (IT) infrastructure within the country to enable investigative agencies ready access to encrypted data on their servers.
Google also ran into trouble with its street view service in Bangalore, where the service was first launched. The popular service, which gives a user a 360 degree view of places on Google maps using high resolution images taken by Google cameras mounted on tricycles and cars, was suspended in India when the state Government opposed the move to take those pictures.
Members of BJP, who were part of the government then, met with Google representatives and asked them to resolve mapping issues on the line of control. They also cited security issues for the ban. There has been very little progress with street view after that.