India's interior ministry turns down Google's Street View proposal

Allowing Google's applications will compromise India's security interests, according to the nation's security agencies and defence forces.

Citing security concerns, the Indian Home Ministry (interior ministry) has rejected Google's request to implement its Street View project across the country.

Google Street View would have spurred local tourism industry's growth to a great extent and Google's representatives in India even agreed to a request from Telangana's IT Minister KT Rama Rao last year to make Hyderabad the first city in the country to implement the same.

However, a committee of experts from Defence and top internal security agencies poured water on Google's plans and advised the government not to accord permission to the project notwithstanding Google's plea that all sensitive information would be blurred.

According to a PTI report, Google planned to put Indian cities, tourist spots, hills, and rivers in an application enabling people to explore through 360-degree, panoramic, and street-level imagery but the Home Ministry has conveyed to Google that its plans to cover India through the Google Street View has been rejected.

The report, quoting official sources, said that the rejection came after a detailed analysis by security agencies and defence forces which feel that allowing Google to cover India would compromise the country's security interests.

"Security establishment got wary of allowing such image-capturing given that planning for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai is believed to have involved photographic reconnaissance of targets by Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley," the PTI report said.

The officials even suspect that the terrorists, who attacked India's biggest airbase at Pathankot on the borders of neighbouring Pakistan early this year, used Google Maps to enter the high security zone.

However, Google can keep its hopes still alive as Indian Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that once the Parliament clears the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, issues related to internet-based application would be resolved. As per the provisions of the proposed legislation, companies looking to publish maps in the country have to take licence and those violating the terms can face be imprisoned for a maximum period of seven years or a fine of 100 crore rupees, or both.

Google Street View was launched in 2007 and is widely used in many countries including the US, Canada, and in several European countries. It was allowed in India on an experimental basis and more than 100 places of historic and religious importance such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Mysore Palace, and the famed Thanjavur temple were covered.

However, Google India's officials did not receive any information, according to the PTI report. The Indian Minister of State for Home was not available for comment.

This is the second project by global IT majors that was rejected by the Indian government in the last couple of months. Last month, Apple's plans to sell refurbished iPhones in the country was denied by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests on the grounds that it would add to the mounting waste in the country.