Google defends 'Mapathon' amid Indian security complaint

Google defends 'Mapathon' amid Indian security complaint

Summary: Amid ongoing police probe, the Internet giant claims its Map Maker technology used to crowdsource location information during February's Mapathon 2013 competition complies with all laws.

TOPICS: Legal, Google, India

Google has defended its Map Maker technology which has provoked a police complaint by the Survey of India mapping department.
In a statement provided to ZDNet, a Google spokesperson said the application, and its use in last month's Mapathon contest, complied with all applicable laws. SOI had reportedly claimed the competition was illegal partly due to security concerns.
A spokesperson said Google has briefed the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Survey General of India, the national cartographer.
Google Maps faces security concerns in India.

"The Survey of India (SOI) contacted Google regarding the Mapathon contest on March 22, and--as requested by them--we responded to them on March 25 and offered to meet them to discuss their concerns," the spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

"We take security and national regulations very seriously," said the spokesperson. "We have not heard back from them further, and are always available to discuss any concerns that they or other agencies might have regarding our programmes."
According to a report in Times of India, SOI referred its complaint to Delhi Police after Google ignored a letter, sent on March 21, requesting the competition be stopped.  On Friday, Reuters reported that Delhi Police had forwarded a complaint against Google to its cybercrime division for further investigation.

Motivation behind Map Maker

Developed by a group of Indian Googlers, Map Maker was released in 2008 as a way for people to add information to Google Maps.
In a blog post, Map Maker senior product manager Jayanth Mysore said the Mapathon 2013 competition aimed to digitize India's mapping knowledge by awarding Android devices, gift vouchers, and Google merchandise to the 1,000 best mappers.
Google Map Maker was first conceptualized in India, a country where even paper maps have historically lacked in details, said Mysore.
"The core belief was that users know their neighbourhoods, villages, and backyards better than anyone else, and so we designed Map Maker as the tool people could use to update these details onto a digital map," he added.
While details have not been officially revealed, SOI's complaint against Google appears to go against its own mission statement.
"[SOI] promotes an active exchange of information, ideas, and technological innovations amongst the data producers and users who will get access to such data of highest possible resolution at an affordable cost in the near real-time environment," the department said, on its Web site.

Topics: Legal, Google, India

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  • In What Kind Of Society...

    ...can the coordinated actions of masses of people, each doing something perfectly legal, suddenly become illegal?
    • You seem to be quite aware of Indian laws

      Not just Indian, most of the countries in the world have strict laws against photography in sensitive areas. However most countries are also realistic enough that this might not be entirely feasible to prevent people from taking pictures. They can prosecute a handful of people for breaking these, but a corporation encouraging thousands of people to indulge in this activity takes it beyond what any law enforcement agency can control. India has one of the lowest cops to citizens ratio in the world. This thing can easily get out of hand. Also, is this not the similar to the earlier illegal activity Google encouraged for Youtube, where millions of 'law-abiding' citizens uploaded movie clippings or entire movies which made Youtube successful in the first place? When enforcement authorities/ content approached Google to take care of this, Google's response was to take it up with the users directly.
      • Re: have strict laws against photography in sensitive areas

        Fine. Is there a list of these areas anywhere? Don't you think it would be handy to have a list of these locations publicly available? It would help law-abiding Indians stay law-abiding, don't you think?