In response to the Survey of India's allegations of its Mapathon contest being against India's cartographical laws, Google recently stated that the contest was in line with all the country's laws. According to The Times of India, Google also said the Survey of India was wrong in saying that the search giant “didn't respond to its concerns.” The Survey of India, the authority dealing with all map-related complaints, had said that the contest was illegal and could even threaten national security.
The report quoted a Google spokesperson as saying, “The Survey of India 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 added, “We have not heard back from them… we are always available to discuss any concerns that they or other agencies might have regarding our programmes.”
BJP MP Tarun Vijay recently raised an alarm about Google's Mapathon violating India's cartographical laws, which spurred the Delhi Police to investigate whether the search giant did indeed violate any laws.
Google Mapathon in February and March invited users to add information about their local areas for Google Maps in India. Google at the time said Mapathon would serve to make more local information easily accessible to all users of the Maps service. The company had promised the top 1,000 mappers prizes in the form of tablets, smartphones and gift vouchers.
A screen grab from a Google's Mapathon informational video
RC Padhi, an official at the Survey of India, said the government body first contacted Google to intimate it about the violation of rules and then filed a complaint with the police. “We have to ensure that security is not compromised at any cost,” Padhi said. He also said that some information uploaded on Google Maps by Mapathon participants could be “sensitive”.
In their communication to Google, the Survey of India said that the body alone is “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 was 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,” a spokesperson said.
The Survey's complaint filed on March 25 at the RK Puram police station reads, “Mapathon 2013 activity is likely to jeopardise national security interest and violates the National Map Policy. Citizens of the country, who are ignorant of the legal consequences, are likely to violate the law of the land.”
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