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Censorship The Military

Google's Mapping Contest Draws Ire From Indian Government 96

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-look-there dept.
hypnosec writes with news that India's Central Bureau of Investigation has ordered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Google for violating Indian laws by mapping sensitive areas and defence installations in the country. As per the PE, registered on the basis of a complaint made by the Surveyor General of India's office to the Union Home Ministry, Google has been accused of organizing a mapping competition dubbed 'Mapathon' in February-March 2013 without taking prior permission from Survey of India, country's official mapping agency. The mapping competition required citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants. The Survey of India (SoI), alarmed by the event, asked the company to share its event details. While going through the details the watchdog found that there were several coordinates having details of sensitive defence installations which are out of the public domain."
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Google's Mapping Contest Draws Ire From Indian Government

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  • by thieh (3654731) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:05AM (#47550019)
    "You didn't get a permit from us about writing a map, so we will ask you to share the map with us."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So is a cover of the NSA to get meta-data with some nefarious purposes? Like they did with the vaccines in Pakistan to find Bin Laden's family and kill them.

    • "You didn't get a permit from us about writing a map, so we will ask you to share the map with us."

      So it's known that Airline pilots don't learn to fly in India; they come to the US to learn to fly.
      Why? Because there are too many permits required to fly any where it's just not feasible to learn in India.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's because there are too few planes in India and too few candidates to make the economics of flying schools work in India. The entire aviation sector in the country is probably less than what JFK handles.

        So, you see, it isn't really about permits. Its about economics of scale. Also, there is a huge sunk cost in airplanes like Cessna in the US which enables a pilot to get all the hours necessary for commercial certification.I was looking into all of this some years ago for when the aviation sector opened u

  • oopsie... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:07AM (#47550035) Homepage Journal

    Someone didn't get his bribe!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't the Indian government have better things to do? Oh like feeding their hundred of millions of impoverished citizens or even building toilets so they don't shit outside everywhere. Or even solve the massive corruption they have.

    No wonder India is such a shithole of a country.

    • You mean, other than letting a foreign company doing spy work in their country? LOL :)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Doesn't the Indian government have better things to do? Oh like feeding their hundred of millions of impoverished citizens or even building toilets so they don't shit outside everywhere. Or even solve the massive corruption they have.

      No wonder India is such a shithole of a country.

      In India, if you want to do anything you have to ask an official for permission first. This is why nothing gets done; the official is thinking like a parasitic pimp more concerned about how to get a cut of someone else's efforts. A hundred years ago, everything everywhere was a nation of outhouses. 70 years ago, nobody had any wealth or money, including countries like the U.S.

      Those countries are where they're at today while India is still unable to replace their free-for-all sewage system. Why is that?

      It'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Piss off India and your labor supply will come to an end!

    • Piss off India and your labor supply will come to an end!

      How do I mod funny, insightful and informative? That was awesome! :)

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        I suspect doing anything to cut the remittances of Asian programmers working in the USA - or the offshore industry might back fire on the Indian government I suspect the big Indian IT firms would be having a "word" with the PM
    • by pla (258480)
      Piss off India and your labor supply will come to an end!

      You promise?

      So how do I go about starting my own Indian mapping competition?


      / H1Bs GTFO.
      // Not your fault, but harder to deport Steve Balmer or The Zuck.
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Piss off India and your labor supply will come to an end!

      Get with the times. My employer just hired Cognizant for a project. The managers are Indians, but the development has all been outsourced to Shanghai. Must be too expensive to hire Indians...

      • by Krishnoid (984597)

        Must be too expensive to hire Indians...

        ... so they cut costs by Shanghai'ing them.

        I'll show myself out.

  • by CaptainDork (3678879) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:09AM (#47550061)

    "The company[Google], noting that it was not aware of any privacy issues, ..."

    • by Entrope (68843) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:23AM (#47550171) Homepage

      The government body trying to protect its turf from competition did not cite any privacy issues, either. It cited security issues, which of course it could not describe in detail because security.

      Did Google specifically solicit information about defense installations, perhaps as a particular example of hospitals or restaurants? If not, did Google have any way to know which information about which installations is considered secret? (Obviously, the government would never publish such a list for general consumption, because that would both reveal the data that they want to protect and distinguish the sensitive data from information that they consider non-sensitive.) Did Google republish this data, or is the perceived offense merely that Google has the data?

      • I think it is upset that it will now have to give a list of private security installations to a foreign owned company that it does not (and should not) fully trust.
    • The company[Google] is never aware of any issues. It's their standard smokescreen/disclaimer.

    • Ignorance is no excuse from legal repercussions is the meaning of that phrase. Google made that statement to a reporter asking for comment, not in a courtroom. In reality (as opposed to the legal system) yes, ignorance of a law definitely is a good excuse. Look at patent trolls, those are clear cases where ignorance of the laws are unfortunately not a legal defense but are definitely a moral excuse.
  • You can't really censor that from the internet, now can you?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. If it was crowdsourced, then by definition, it is in the public domain. It's public domain information they want to cover up. Not 'information not in the public domain'.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      When I lived in the UK, there was a big blank space on the official maps just outside town. Anyone who lived near there knew it was the local nuclear weapons dump, and any Soviet spy who drove past would see the buildings that mysteriously didn't appear on the map, and know it must be something important enough to hide, and therefore important enough to bomb in wartime.

      The whole thing was just stupid.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:15AM (#47550099) Homepage

    out of the public domain

    If you can see it from public property and tell what it is, it's (effectively) in the public domain, isn't it?

    If it's supposed to be secret, and someone who shouldn't know where it is does, you've got a security leak.

    I'd say Google's doing them a favour. If any of their secret installations turn up on it, you know it's time to shut them down or move them.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:25AM (#47550179) Homepage

      Except, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of places which are also censored [list25.com] or blurred from Google maps and the like.

      India is hardly the first country to do this, and there's a few US installations which are blurred out.

      Governments censor data, film at 11.

      • by Entrope (68843)

        North Korea makes it extremely hard to get map information! Face recognition algorithms sometimes go awry! A power plant is shown with similar resolution to neighboring buildings! News at 11!

        At least 15 of the 25 places on the list you link to are closed to the general public, several others might be (not clear from quick Google searches), and several appear to have high-quality satellite imagery now. It is not surprising that Google blurs out places that governments intentionally make it hard to see.

      • by LienRag (1787684)
        How does it works for OpenStreetMap?
        As an open-source project, it has no nationality...
    • by sjbe (173966) on Monday July 28, 2014 @11:56AM (#47550447)

      If you can see it from public property and tell what it is, it's (effectively) in the public domain, isn't it?

      Not necessarily. This isn't the United States. Different laws and customs applied differently. Your normal expectations regarding the law may not apply.

      I'd say Google's doing them a favour. If any of their secret installations turn up on it, you know it's time to shut them down or move them.

      Yeah... I'm sure that's exactly how they will see it too... [/sarcasm]

    • by rgmoore (133276)

      If you can see it from public property and tell what it is, it's (effectively) in the public domain, isn't it?

      It may be practically difficult to prevent that information from getting out to people who want it, but that doesn't make it legal to do so. Plenty of governments continue to try keeping stuff secret even when there's no real hope of doing so.

  • by scuzzlebutt (517123)
    Have you never heard of the Streisand Effect?
    • Have you never heard of the Streisand Effect?

      The Streisand Effect works only if you know and care about Barbara Streisand --- and only in a time and place where Geek Rules override every other consideration.

      The geek has a one-size-fits-all cultural mindset that has never served him particularly well.

  • seriously, "defence", doesn't every freakin' browser have a spell checker built in nowadays ?!
  • I have seen numerous Govt offices in India with a rusted metal sign saying, "Photography prohibited". But cut them some slack too, routinely attacked by terrorists looking for soft targets.

    Also the border is disputed with Pakistan and China. Since Pakistan has been the "ally" of USA since 1950s, and India kept dallying with USSR all those days, almost all the American magazines will carry maps that show disputed parts of Kashmir as part of Pakistan. I have seen so many Reader's Digest, Time, National Geogr

  • It could also have something to do with the fact that normally foreigners are not allowed in cantonments and other restricted areas and so the use of locals opens both sides up to problems.

    My visa specifically mentions which cities I can live in (so I must register with the FRRO in either of those cities; as far as I know, I don't think I can just up and move from say Delhi or Mumbai to somewhere else without getting some additional permitting or a replacement visa first) but it also says "not valid for pro

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