The Google Mapathon case, which has caused quite a controversy in India, may be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the investigation could have national ramifications, according to those close to the inquiry. The Mountain View-based company is alleged to have violated India’s National Map Policy and jeopardised national security.

The Hindu reports that based on information provided by sources in the government, the Delhi Police has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), requesting it to refer the Mapathon case to the CBI’s cyber crime cell. The CBI has been asked to look into the matter as the contest was a nationwide activity and it is alleged that sensitive information could have changed hands during the contest, encouraging citizens to plot out their neighbourhoods.

A screen grab from a Google's Mapathon informational video

Stop the plotting

It is felt that the CBI, being a federal investigating agency, would be able to carry out the probe more effectively. If indeed the CBI is handed over the case in the near future, it would only serve to raise the profile of the matter and could become a long-drawn court battle for Google, something the company is already facing in Europe over the past couple of years.

In another development, BJP MP Tarun Vijay, who you would remember first brought up the matter in public, said he would be raising the issue in Parliament next week. “I have already given a call attention notice in Parliament in this regard and hope [the] government will come out with a statement on this issue that has made the Indian defence and other strategic establishments vulnerable,” he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Mapathon invited users to add information about their local areas for the Google Map service in India in February and March. Google at the time said the Mapathon would serve to make more local information easily accessible to all users of the Maps service.

However, the Survey of India took exception to the exercise. In their communication to Google, Survey of India said that they alone are “mandated to undertake ‘Restricted’ category surveying and mapping and no other government/private organisation or any individual is authorised to do so.”

In response, a Google India spokesperson said the company is open to discussing the concerns with the relevant authorities in India. “The Mapathon, like all mapping activity, has guidelines that follow applicable laws. We have not been informed of any specific sensitive locations being added in Google Map Maker during the recent Mapathon exercise, or otherwise. Google takes security and national regulations very seriously.”

Earlier this month, Google said their attempts to reach out to the Indian authorities have been met with no response.

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