Google Runs Afoul of Indian Agency over Mapping Contest
Google, who is no stranger to international dustups over its maps and street view service, has run afoul of India’s federal mapping agency over a recent project to improve upon the country’s maps.
Google first announced the Mapathon back in February, saying that they were trying to create better maps for India, “a country where even paper maps have historically lacked in details.” Google offered prizes to participants – including Android tablets, phones, and various bits of Google swag. All Google asked people to do was add location details via Google Map Maker.
The Mapathon officially began on February 12th and was over by March 25th.
According to Google India, the Mapathon was a huge success. They reported new information on 32,000 emergency locations like hospitals, 82,000 food updates, and 42,000 map updates on places of worship. None of the information collected via Map Maker had anything to do with “sensitive places,” according to Google.
But the Indian Survey agency wasn’t too happy about it, and they asked Google to cease the promotion as it was “likely to jeopardize national security interest and violates National Map Policy.”
The Indian federal survey and mapping agency has filed an official complaint, and the head of the agency says that they plan to take the issue to Parliament later this month. Apparently, local law says that companies must obtain expressed permission from the proper authorities in order to operate a map project like the one Google sponsored. Failure to do so opens up such companies to local prosecution.
But Google India spokesperson Roy Chowdhury says that Google did in fact informed local officials of its mapping project, and that it complied with all local regulations.
“We take security and national regulations very seriously, and we’re open to discussing specific concerns with public authorities and officials,” said Chowdhury.[Wall Street Journal (paywall) via Search Engine Land]