Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Litigation to Ban Blur Google Earth Filed in India

From DNA a report that Mr. Amit Karkhanis who is an advocate has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the Bombay High Court requesting the Court to direct Google to blur images of sensitive areas in the country.

“This website aids terrorists in plotting attacks,” the plea states.

Now take a look at the targets the terrorists hit in Mumbai. A train station, a pub, a hospital and a hotel. These are the kinds of locations along with a street map that even shoddy government of India approved tourist literature actually highlight! Blurring locations deemed worthy of secrecy ain't going to stop terrorists from randomly picking any crowded area in India's teeming cities and causing mayhem.

City street maps and points of interest are available independent of Google Earth images. Most smart phones these days come preloaded with street maps and location based navigation services. It is an exercise in silliness to blur a few location here and there and hope that will deter terrorists.

Maybe it makes sense to blur locations of military and strategic interest. I really don't believe so, since spy agencies of various countries have already mapped those. And if the spy agency is in collusion with the terrorists then you have a bigger problem at hand that won't be solved by banning Google Earth.

I hope the Bombay High Court shows Mr. Karkhanis the correct place to file such PIL's.

Which is in the garbage can.


  1. Maybe the Govt. of India should just write a letter to the terrorists to target any blurred areas on a Google map. We're going to make it easier for them. What a ridiculous idea!

  2. Would Google actually be required to follow a court direction like that? I would think that many of the images they use are actually available from other places. Well, I hope it doesn't work.

  3. It is ridiculous. For one as Silver Fox pointed out that images are available from a variety of sources. second these terrorists are unlikely to target highly guarded strategic locations. they want to shock by killing lots of unarmed people. what do you then blur?

    I think this is one ban that even as ardent a fan of bans of various sorts as the Indian govt. is unlikely to support. GIS is gaining importance in government work. Many municipalities (even Bombay) has plans of developing online web mapping apps. of their cities. This makes blurring points of interest on Google redundant.

    regarding your question Silver Fox whether Google will follow such a court order. Google does provide low resolution only for certain strategic locations if specifically requested by the government. but more often than not every time a question of security has come up, not just in India, all we hear is a diplomatic "we are actively working with the government in question to ensure that security is not compromised" line. not much changes after that.

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