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A Google Contest May Have Revealed Secret Military Bases in India


An area of tension between India and Pakistan was highlighted by a contest winner.

(Image source: Google)

India is investigating Google after a mapping contest may have highlighted sensitive military areas.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s equivalent of the FBI, launched the investigation into the California company after a mapping contest sponsored by Google allegedly revealed the locations of sensitive military installations, Newsweek reported.

(Image source: Google) Image source: Google

CBI took over the investigation from the local Delhi police, and will investigate whether Google violated laws by mapping sensitive areas and defense installations.

The mapping occurred during Mapathon 2013, which challenged citizens to map their neighborhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants, and according to tech site BGR, the Internet giant did not get permission from Survey of India, the country’s official mapping agency, before organizing the mapping competition in February-March 2013.

The contest winner, Vishal Saini, mapped the city of Pathankot, which is very close to the border of what India calls Jammu and Kashmir, and is the ninth most populous city in the state of Punjab. Pakistan calls the area Azad Jammu and Kashmir, or simply Azad Kashmir ("Free Kashmir"). The area has been a serious point of contention between the two countries; they have fought three wars over the territory since 1947.

It isn't hard to assume, then, that India might have important military installations in that area.

When Saini submitted his contest-winning map to Google, he included a large area labelled "Military Area," according to Popular Science, though he did not outline specific buildings within that area.

(Image source: Google) (Image source: Google)

The crux of India's complaint is Survey of India's claimed monopoly on mapping sensitive and restricted areas. As per the National Map Policy, the agency is responsible for "producing, maintaining and disseminating the topographic map database of the whole country.” The appearance of places like Pathankot Military Area on an openly accessible map undermine that monopoly, and potentially hinder the national security interests secured there.

Google India told BGR, “We are in touch with relevant authorities and take national regulations and security very seriously. We have nothing more to share at this point in time.”

(H/T: The Epoch Times)


Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter. 

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