The Narendra Modi government in India has asked popular search engine Google not to map the country through Street View due to security concerns.
According to sources close to the Indian Home Ministry, the government has decided to ban the Street View, as the virtual mapping tool will make it easier for terrorists to launch attacks in different parts of the country by allowing them to view 360-degree, panoramic and street-level images of India.
So far, Street View in India has only mapped major landmarks and tourist destinations, like the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. A senior Home Ministry official told the media on Friday that Indian security agencies and Defence Department had urged the government not to allow Google to show the street-level detail (seen in cities in the UK or the US).
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed: “The main concern was security of sensitive defence installations. The Defence Ministry said that it was not possible to monitor the service once it was launched and it would be detrimental to national security.”
However, it is still not clear whether New Delhi has officially rejected Google’s plans to map the South Asian country through Street View. A section of the Indian media has reported that Google’s Street View service may be affected by the Indian government’s Geospatial Information Regulation Bill that is yet to be passed in the Parliament. But, the official stressed that the issue would be sorted after it is passed in the House.
Indian investigators believe that terrorists, who attacked the Pathankot military airbase in January, 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, too. In these countries, privacy-minded people have demanded photos of their homes be blurred.
Meanwhile, Google, which has mapped some of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures from the Pyramids of Giza to the ancient city of Petra, has claimed that it has so far received no official notifications of the ban from the Indian government.