Google Street View – Exploring and Revealing the World.
Google Street View! The internet search giant Google’s virtual mapping tool, Google street view, is yet to receive permissions in India.
As per Mr Sanket Gupta, Maps Lead, Google India, the search giant is yet to get permissions on the policy front to roll out Street View feature in India.
Google Street View makes you Explore without Leaving your Home:
Google Street View Program let the users view 360-degree, panoramic and street-level images across more than 65 countries and seven million miles.
It displays panoramas of the stitched images and the user can explore world landmarks, discover natural wonders and steps inside locations such as museums, parks and transport hubs at just a click.
Since its launch, Google has announced that it has 20 petabytes of data for Street View covering 39 countries and about 3000 cities. Starting from Nepal with Mount Everest to Pyramids of Giza, Google documented some of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures.
Recently it mapped the streets and sights of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Stadium before the commencement of the Rio 2016 games.
“India is among the top five nations using offline Google Maps. In case of Google Street View, most photography is done by car, but some are done by trekker. Technically, we just need cameras and cars. With more than 5,000 cities and six lakh villages mapped in India, the company aims to develop more country-relevant features.” said Mr Sanket Gupta.
Google Street View Sparks Privacy Concerns:
Though this 360-degree virtual reality technology is being deployed in India’s immediate neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the other nations including Japan, the search giant is facing strict rejection in India due to security concerns.
Despite the fact that Google automatically blurs faces, licence plates and other sensitive information, India’s security agencies reportedly objected to granting permission.
This comes in the wake of terrorist attacks in Mumbai and more recently in Pathankot Military Airbase. The Defence Ministry is of the opinion that it is not possible to monitor the service once it is launched and would be detrimental to national security.
The Google Street View service has led to privacy concerns and faced a similar backlash in countries around the world. It has limited or no coverage and banned in some countries including Austria, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand etc.
Is Freedom Ever Justified?
Personally, I appreciate Google’s mission to organize the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. But when I compare Street View and Maps, the former adds little to the value and functionality of Google Maps.
Then why should Google devote its vast resources and invite litigation and privacy complaints from around the world?
Right now, India is vulnerable to terrorists and more so than other developing or developed countries thanks to our neighbours across the Northwest border.
Finally, the Indian Government has rejected Google Street View proposal. The Union Minister of State for Home, Mr Hansraj Gangaram Ahir replied to a question in Lok Sabha that the state would not accept such proposal.
For the unaware, the search engine giant rolled out Google Street View in Bangalore on an experimental basis in the year 2011. As it received objections from the local authorities, it stopped the project.
Later on, Google relaunched street view for about 31 tourist sites such as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Varanasi river bank, Nalanda University, Mysore Palace, Thanjavur temple and Chinnaswamy stadium. This was done in partnership with the Archaeological Society of India.
Starting 2015, Google has been in talks with the Government of India for expansion of its 360-degree panoramic and street-level imagery. However, it couldn’t succeed.
Nevertheless, blocking progress in the name of anti-national does not seem right. Is it justifiable?