CBI may take over Google Mapathon case; more trouble for Google?

Facing accusations of violating India's mapping rules, Google is set to face more trouble as the government plans to hand over the Google Mapathon case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Published Date
22 - Apr - 2013
| Last Updated
22 - Apr - 2013
CBI may take over Google Mapathon case; more trouble for Google?

The Indian government may hand over the Google Mapathon case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from Delhi Police, as the probe will have the 'national ramifications'. Google is accused of violating India's mapping and defence guidelines by holding a Mapathon competition, under which the company asked users to add information about their neighborhoods to its online map service.

Citing sources in the government, The Hindu reports the Delhi Police in its letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought handing over the probe to CBI's cyber crime cell, saying the competition was held across the country and that key information of strategic installations may have been passed on to the Internet company. Delhi Police said the CBI would be able to conduct probe 'effectively'.

In the meanwhile, the Survey of India in another letter to Google India has accused the Internet company of providing 'false statements' about a meeting between the two organisations over the matter. The Survey of India noted that Google did not take any measure to address the government concerns, and that their action was “jeopardising the national security.”

On April 17, 2013, the Survey of India wrote to Google, saying: “In your [Google] response to Sh. MI Mallik, Director, Survey (Air) & Delhi GDC, Survey of India, R.K. Puram, New Delhi you have stated that you had a discussion with him, which is false. In fact, neither you nor any of your representatives have met Sh. MI Mallik, Director, Survey (Air) & Delhi GDC nor visited his office.”

“In matters of national security any responsible citizen or agency takes necessary corrective action as suggested by the Government of India agency immediately. Your continued activities with implications leading to compromise of national security are objectionable and could amount to serious offence,” the letter further added.

BJP parliamentarian Tarun Vijay, who was among the first to raise the matter, said he would take up the matter in the Parliament this week.

“I have already given a call attention notice in Parliament in this regard and hope [the] government will come out with a statement on this issue that has made the Indian defence and other strategic establishments vulnerable,” he is quoted as saying.

The development comes weeks after Delhi Police confirmed it had received complaints with regards to an alleged breach of India's defence regulations on mapping by Google.

Google, on the other hand, refuted the charges of violating rules. "Map Maker (the tool used during Mapathon) was launched in India in 2008 with the goal of making local information more accessible to all, by allowing people to add information to Google Maps. Indian authorities, including the ministry of science and technology and the Surveyor General of India, have been briefed on Map Maker, which complies with all laws," a Google spokesperson had said.