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Google Street View Stops Driving In India; Bangalore Police

Update: Business Standard quotes T Sunil, Assistant Commissioner of the Bangalore Police, as saying that Google had failed to get clearances from the Central Government, and Ministry of Defence. We reiterate the point we made earlier (read below) – if an international photographer doesn’t need permission to take photographs of Indian streets, why should Google’s Street View cars?

Earlier: Exclusive: Google has paused it’s Street View project in India, the company has confirmed to MediaNama, stating that they received a letter from the Commissioner of Police regarding street view, and decided to stop Street View cars from plying in Bangalore for the time being. The company hasn’t commented on the content of the letter it received.

In response to a query from MediaNama, a Google Spokesperson wrote back, stating that: “We can confirm that we received a letter from the Commissioner of Police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the Police have.”

We had asked Google some questions on permissions and data collections at the time of the Street View launch. Read their responses here. The company had said then that it had taken a formal approval from the traffic department of the Bangalore Police for Google Street View.

Is Street View Publishing Media?

We had contacted Google following an anonymous tip-off we received, which stated: “google street view has been stopped by bangalore police as policy on foreign companies to collect such data is not present . At present there are several restrictions on foreigners to collect photgraphs and there is also a foreign direct investment policy ( FDI policy ) on investments and participation by foreign comanpanies in Indian media . This form of new media collection needs policy clearance for foreign companies . Also the controversial and often adversorial approach by google and google earth is not finding favour in Indian adminstration .”

We’re not sure if these the comments on Foreign Direct Investment limits in India are applicable to Google, even if it does raise the question – is Google Street View, by publishing photographs online, actually a publishing entity? We don’t think that the Foreign Direct Investment limits of 26% on Indian News media will most likely not be applicable to Google Street View.

Secondly, we don’t think there is the need for any policy on a publishing entity to collect data, unless it is for sensitive areas: International media organizations don’t need permits to click photographs in India, do they?

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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