Is Google Maps a ‘security threat’ to India's sovereignty, Delhi High Court asks government

India as seen by Google Earth servicesGoogle Maps

  • Google Maps intricate detail and accurate images might be a ‘security threat’ to India.
  • India’s Delhi High Court has asked the central government to look into the issue and assess whether Google’s mapping services in the country should be restricted.
  • Google Earth services reportedly shows all of India’s defence bases and other critical information.
Google Maps can peer into any country in the world and while it has made navigation extremely convenient, India’s Delhi High Court thinks it might also be a ‘security threat’.

It’s one of the most popular apps in the world with over a billion users and the same features benefit ordinary users can also be used by criminals or terrorists to plan their activities, according the public interest litigation filed by Kisalya Shukla, an advocate.

The PIL states that India’s defence bases and other critical information is available through Google Earth services — the mapping mechanism behind Google Maps — in ‘violation of India’s sovereignty’.

The two judge bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar have asked the central government to look into the issue and decide whether or not Google should be allowed to continue posting maps on India online.

Google accuracy could be its undoing

Google Earth services, that powers Google’s mapping applications, is an open source image data source — that means anyone can use it and it’s free.

The company collects data through road sensors, transport departments and even user contributions through Map Maker in addition to the satellite images it has already collected.

The resulting maps that are seen online can be used to find the fastest route to work or to plan the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, according to police officials.

Late president, APJ Abdul Kalam, also stated that "sensitive areas clearly marked on Google Earth" during a press conference in 2005.

He added that the current laws in the country, and abroad, aren’t sufficient for restricting how these detailed maps are used which make them a security hazard.

‘As an alternative, the PIL filed by Shukla also requested that the Indian government launch India’s indigeous navigation system, NavIC, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) available to the general public.

See also:
Uber relies on Google Maps for its business and spent $58 million on it over three years

Google Maps will now alert you to speed traps as you drive — but its chances of success are limited

Incognito mode is coming to Google Maps and Google search
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