Monday, April 8, 2013

Paranoia Over Google Mapping Tools Persists In Indian Officialdom

sigh... I keep writing about this only partly as comedy.. but mostly in frustration...

From an article in the Hindu about the recently held "mapathon"contest organized by Google.

As Delhi Police investigates whether Google violated rules in holding a competition that asked users to add information about their local areas for its online map, the U.S. Internet giant on Saturday said it had responded to queries raised by Survey of India more than 10 days back and hasn’t heard from it yet. (emphasis mine)

Apparently, the Survey of India and the Defence establishment is worried that such initiatives will have grave security repercussions.  The problem is that Google has been asking users to add information about their local areas for its online map for several years now. I just don't comprehend how a mapping contest wherein lots of enthusiasts add places of interest on a map within a short span of time becomes a greater security threat than an individual using Google Maps on any other day of the year.

more from this article in the Economic Times... But on behalf of the Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao, his deputy major general R C Padhi told the three ministries that Mapathon was "not in accordance with the national Mapping Policy 2005 and map restriction policies issued by the defence ministry from time to time", sources said.

Added a senior defence officer, "Such activities can have serious security repercussions in case mapping of restricted areas is undertaken by members of the general public."

The words "general public" come out of the mouths of our officials with such contempt and suspicion. These archaic mapping policies which restrict the "general public" from mapping certain areas have long been rendered meaningless by the many roving eyes that hover above the earth. I am sure the government understands this.. but relinquishing control over anything has always been hard for Indian officialdom.

The exceedingly vast majority of people using Google applications to map India don't want to harm India.

Those who do... might I remind the Indian Government that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26 2008 did not wait for a mapping contest to survey the city.

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