By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) The government should book Google for "violating" India's defence regulations on maps and force the company to surrender its "illegally stored" data to the Surveyor General of India, BJP MP Tarun Vijay says.
"Getting every inch of India mapped by illegally inviting people to send the data for their US-based servers presents a grave danger to the security and poses a challenge to the Indian state," Tarun Vijay told IANS in an interview concerning Google's Mapathon 2013 exercise.
Mapathon 2013 - which started last month and culminates on March 25 - is an India-wide mapping contest by Google with prizes for top mappers. Google Maps users from all over the country have been invited "to help create better maps for India" by adding knowledge of their neighbourhoods through the Google map maker.
The Bharatiya Janata Party MP said Google had broken the statutory norms by running a Map India campaign without permission.
"The Mapathon activity by Google Maps is in contravention of the National Map Policy and map restriction policies issued by the defence ministry from time to time," he said.
Tarun Vijay said that the Surveyor General of India (SOI) alone was mandated to undertake "restricted" category survey, mapping and disseminating India's topographic map database.
The MP, who is also a BJP spokesperson, said the defence ministry has identified and prepared a list of civil and military Vital Areas (VAs)/Vital Points (VPs) in consultation with the home ministry and this was regularly updated.
"From the national security point of view, these VAs/VPs cannot be shown in the maps/data published in the public domain as Google is doing," he said.
Calling for tough action, he said Google should be taught to respect India's laws.
"Restrict them, invoke the relevant law to book a case against them, interrogate their CEO in India and make them surrender all data illegally stored to the Survey of India. The law must prevail, however influential such agencies might be," Tarun Vijay said.
At the same time, the MP said that Google had done a great service to mapping the world over and had changed the way people used maps or located places.
"Still, the Indian state can't be dwarfed by a US-based agency whose operations are not under our control. People can be involved, but with the active monitoring by the Survey of India alone so that the sensitive maps can be identified and kept out of the public domain," he said.
Asked about his meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony earlir in the week during which he had demanded an inquiry into the issue, Tarun Vijay said he had been informed after the meeting by the Survey of India that it had taken up the matter with Google.
He said Survey of India officials had also taken up the issue with the defence ministry for steps to stop "unauthorised" mapping activity.
Tarun Vijay accused the government of being insenistive to Google's mapping activities.
"The lethargic attitude is disappointing.The government should have been the first to promptly register a cognisable offence case against Google," he said.
Anwering a query, he said Google had not responded to issues raised by him.
Tarun Vijay said that India's mapping policy was available on government websites and bookstores and ignorance cannot be an excuse.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at email@example.com)
By Prashant Sood