Google Street View Banned in India Following the Security Concerns

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Citing the security concerns Indian Government has decided to ban Google street view service. The move was attributed to the fact that Street view may compromise the country’s security.

The decision was taken unanimously by the technical committee of defence ministry comprising of the officials from Military Intelligence, Army, Navy, Indian Air Force and Intelligence Bureau according to the Hindu.

“The main concern was the security of sensitive defence installations. The Defense Ministry said it was not possible to monitor the service once it was launched and it would be detrimental to national security,” a Government Official explained.

However, it’s not the end of the road for Street view in India as according to sources, Government is presently waiting for Geospatial Information Regulation Bill to be passed and once the bill is enacted, the Government may give a fresh thought on the search engine giant’s application.

The bill will pose limitations on the applications such as Google Maps which collects and publishes high-resolution images. Anything that deters ‘security, sovereignty and integrity’ of India will be eventually punished. Indian Government, under the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, would be able to impose Rs 100 crore ($14.95 million) fine on an offender who wrongly depicts India’s international borders in maps.

“All such issues will be sorted out after the bill comes into being,” –Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs.

India being the second most populous country in the world serves as a key potential market for Google. The company is working on multiple fronts to strengthen its presence in India and play a key role in the technological growth of the country. Earlier, Google has started the free Wi-Fi initiative at various Indian Railway stations collaborating with Railtel. Google is also set to launch its Loon project in India that will provide internet connections to millions of Indians in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

Earlier, the government allowed Google Street view on an experimental basis to capture some historical monuments like Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar and Red Fort. In 2011, Police stopped the Google Street View’s fleet that was working on an experimental basis in Bengaluru.

Google Street view was developed to provide a 360-degree virtual experience of a particular place. Google uses the specialised camera mounted vehicles like the tricycle, cars, boat etc. to capture closer to life high definition 360-degree views. Google, however, uses technology to blur faces and number plates of cars to safeguard identities.

Terrorists Using Google Street View Service in India

The Pathankot airbase terrorist attack in January 2016 was one of the reasons for government to ban the Google Street View service. As according to the Intelligence Bureau, the terrorists used Google’s Map Services to get in-depth knowledge about the airbase. Following the attack, Delhi High Court ordered a probe into the matter as Google maps showed sensitive places like defence Installation, Nuclear power plants etc.

The 26/11 Mumbai Terrorist Attack that jolted the entire world involved photographic reconnaissance of targets by the mastermind David Headley, a Pakistani- American. The issue was raised by security agencies citing the concerns over image capturing services.

Global Issues

The Street view was launched in May 2007 in the US covering Las Vegas, Denver, Miami and, San Francisco. The camera mounted vehicles covered the streets collecting 360-degree view of the streets. While the initial response and reaction were quite encouraging, but security and privacy concerns from many countries including Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Greece and the United Kingdom, had haunted Google’s Street view in the past.

Apart from India, Czech Republic Government also banned the Street view and around 250,000 German households solicited Google to blur their household pictures from its street view in 2010.

Currently, Google Street View service is capturing 360-degree heart throbbing images in 65+ countries across the globe.

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