India Bans Google Street View Vehicles For Being “Just Another Intelligence Agency Spy Device”

Google Street View banned in India due to security concerns

Taj Mahal on Google street view
Only areas such as the Taj Mahal are currently mapped in street view

The Indian Government has rejected Google’s plans to map the South Asian country through Street View, citing security concerns.

Street View is the search giant’s virtual mapping tool that lets users view 360-degree, panoramic and street-level images across more than 65 countries, and seven million miles.

So far, Street View in India has only mapped major landmarks and tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Gateway of India in Mumbai, rather than the street-level detail seen in cities in the UK or the US.

Despite the fact that Google blurs faces, licence plates and other sensitive information, India’s security agencies and defence department objected.

Google's Street View cars
Google’s Street View cars Credit: Alamy

“The main concern was security of sensitive defence installations. The Defence Ministry said it was not possible to monitor the service once it was launched and it would be detrimental to national security,” a senior government official told Indian newspaper The Hindu.

This comes in the wake of terrorist attacks in Mumbai and more recently, on the Pathankot military airbase in January. Investigators believe the attackers were familiar with the layout of the airbase from Google Maps.

The service has faced similar backlash in Europe, including in the UK, Czech Republic and Germany, where privacy-minded citizens demanded photos of their homes be blurred as well.

The city of Hamburg’s data protection authority fined Google $189,225 in 2013. European authorities also ruled that citizens whose homes were being photographed by Google’s bikes and cars had to be notified first.

Watch: Explore the Amazon rainforest via zip line with Google Street View Play! 00:34

 

Since its launch, Google has mapped some of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures from the Pyramids of Giza to the ancient city of Petra, as well as natural wonders like the Galapagos Islands and the underwater fauna off Cook Island, to raise awareness of conservation efforts. Most recently, Street View mapped the streets and sights of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic stadia before Rio 2016. 

Google said it had received no official notifications of the ban from the Indian Home Office.

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