Mumbai, India : Two years ago former President Abdul Kalam had expressed concerns that unrestricted pictures on Google Earth of sensitive locations in India could have worrisome implications.
Earlier few media had reported, the Indian government and Google Earth had agreed to show “fuzzy, low-resolution or distorted pictures” of sensitive military and scientific establishments on the web. However, following the 26/11 terror attacks, a Mumbai-based advocate has moved Bombay high court seeking a “complete ban on Google Earth and similar sites like Wikimapia” in the larger interest of national security. Advocate Amit Karkhanis filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on Monday, stating that the websites gave minute details and provided viewers with photographs and “extremely accurate navigational coordinates” as well.
Terrorists are increasingly relying on sophisticated technology and internet services including Google Earth, maps and satellite phones for their horrible plans, he said. According to the petition, the website was against the objective of the National Security Act and the government had the power to prevent acts that were prejudicial to the nation’s security and safety. The ministry of science and technology and Survey of India are the two authorities responsible for mapping the country. The country’s National Mapping Policy of 2005 allows only the Survey of India to prepare maps in India in association with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
However, Google Earth provided free internet satellite pictures to an individual with “absolutely no control to prevent misuse or limit access” to sensitive places such as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Naval dockyards, nuclear and oil establishments and Rashtrapati Bhavan, the petition said.
The advocate, in his PIL, said the premium edition with a subscription of US $400 allowed even real-time maps and updates to be accessed. Even the pictures of the ongoing construction of the Worli-Bandra Sealink were available on the site, Karkhanis noted.
The PIL wants the government to disclose all the steps it has taken to ensure that pictures and images available on Google Earth are not misused by terror agents and pending the PIL, the high court must direct the site to blur images of sensitive locations.