India Denies Google Street View Amid National Security Concerns

Andrew Orr In the News

For several months, Google has been making a push to get its Street View service into India, but the proposal was ultimately rejected by India’s Ministry of Defense who voiced concerns over the possible threat to national security.

Google first began using Street View in a limited capacity back in 2011, mapping Indian heritage sites like the Taj Mahal in partnership with the Archaeological Society of India. Although Google Maps has street view capacity in the main cities like Mumbai, the service is lacking.

According to Indian website The Hindu, there were fears that Google Maps was used to carry out a terrorist attack on India’s Pathankot airbase in January.

Internet Initiatives

Indian officials are currently debating a controversial bill called the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, meant to put bigger restrictions on how much geospatial information, like maps and satellite images, are made public. If this bill is passed, companies like Google and Uber will be forced to file an application with the Indian government, and pay fees to continue using mapping technology.

india-pakistanNot everyone agrees with the decision, though. Last year Google was trying to get permission for a limited trial run of Street View in Hyderabad. When it was denied, Indian officials were frustrated as they believed Google’s service could be used in the public interest, like boosting tourism and helping disaster management efforts.

However, it is likely that this latest rejection is temporary, as the Minister of the Interior Kiren Rijiju said the rejection may be overturned later this year after the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is passed.

The Next Big Market?

With over 1.3 billion people in India, tech companies are scrambling to enter this huge market. Some, like Apple and Facebook, have had their proposals rejected by India. Earlier this year, Facebook came under fire for its Internet Basics plan, as it violated net neutrality rules and created a closed ecosystem.

Then, just last month Apple’s plan to import used iPhones into the country was turned down. India is focusing its efforts on a Make in India initiative to improve its manufacturing industry.

“Most importantly, [Make in India] represents a complete change of the Government’s mindset – a shift from issuing authority to business partner, in keeping with Prime Minister Modi’s tenet of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.”