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Google Maps Hit for Showing Sensitive India Military Zones

TMCnet Feature

July 30, 2014

Google Maps Hit for Showing Sensitive India Military Zones

By Matt Paulson
TMCnet Contributing Writer

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is currently launching an investigation against Google (News - Alert) for mapping sensitive locations within the country. A “mapathon” conducted in the country last year resulted in the mapping of several key defensive installations and other restricted areas, the act of which violated several of the country's laws. While Google almost certainly meant no harm by providing maps for the area, the CBI have registered a complaint against the company and filed by India's Surveyor General.

Google is generally quite cognizant of these types of laws, which stop them from providing too much detail on maps of military bases and other registered map-free zones or posting otherwise objectionable content. However Google is legally only allowed to map Indian regions after obtaining express permission from the Survey of India, the country's official mapping agency. Google's mapathon, which took place between February and March of last year, was held without the agency's knowledge.

During their mapathons Google asks local citizens as much location information as possible about neighborhoods, with special emphasis placed on the locations of restaurants and hospitals. However while doing so, the company accidentally stumbled upon the coordinates of several defensive installations, which are supposed to be kept from public knowledge. While Google did not explicitly label these locations as military installations, the detailed maps still exist. Allegedly, this information could be used by enemy combatants, terrorists or other criminals to sabotage the military's ability to defend the nation.

Since 2005, India has left the full responsibility for “producing, maintaining and disseminating the topographic map database” of the country to the Survey of India. Despite any potential allegations of spying or other military intelligence goals, Google is in trouble for violating this edict. Google has not made any official response to these allegations, but a preliminary inquiry by the CBI has already been set up.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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