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Q. Google Street View: In the backdrop of India’s recent refusal to allow launching Google Street View, Discuss Google Street View and its operation in India context.
Jun 18, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-3

Ans :

Introduction-

Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world. It gives users a 360-degree view of public spaces.

How it works?

Google Street View displays panoramas of stitched images (combining multiple photographic images) with overlapping fields, most of the photography is done by car, but some is done by trekker, tricycle, walking, boat, snowmobile, and underwater apparatus.

Its benefits-

  • It helps develop tourism sector by providing panoramic view of various places.
  • It will acts handy in disaster management, traffic management etc.
  • It also helps develop business activities by providing real time information about business.

Concerns-

  • It may affect security establishment, as terror groups can use this service to get information about sensitive areas.
  • It also affects privacy of individual and it can infringe civil liberties.

In the India context-

Recently central government rejected Google’s proposal to launch its street view service in India following the objection raised by the ministry of defence.

Reasons-

  • In the backdrop of the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, investigators suspects that terrorists used Google Maps to study the topography of the targeted area.
  • Even Delhi High Court asked the government to examine the issue of sensitive locations such as defence installations and nuclear power plants showing on Google Maps.
  • According to government current rejection is for security reasons of sensitive areas. Current decision is not final and such issues can be resolved once the Geospatial Bill, which seeks to regulate map-creation and sharing, comes into force.

Suggestion-

  • Considering its benefits outweighs over concerns, India should allow Google street view service with some caveats.
  • India government can ask Google to keep out sensitive and defence related information from street view service.
  • Similarly it can ask not to show real time images and show blurred images of people.

In other countries-

  • Since its launch in 2007 in the USA, the street view service has faced roadblocks in many countries.
  • In the USA, Google was asked to remove sensitive information, and its image-capturing cars were ordered to keep off military bases.
  • In Europe, especially Germany, concerns over loss of privacy took centre stage. In Germany, households were given the option of blurring their buildings.
  • In Japan, the height from which the cameras scanned the neighbourhoods was lowered and local governments were notified prior to Google’s photography.
  • Israel allowed street view with condition that Google doesn’t show images in real-time and only photographs public spaces open to all.

Conclusion-

In spite of having some security and privacy concerns, Google street view has lots of benefits. It’s a great application of modern technology and an achievement that such vast amounts of data appear to be so readily available. Hence India should allow such important modern technology by making some required restriction.


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