Google told to get clearance for Bangalore `Street View`

Street View allows users to virtually explore & navigate a neighbourhood through panoramic street-level images.

Bangalore: The Bangalore police has directed global Internet search engine Google to get permission from the central government to film this tech hub for its Street View project, a senior police official said Tuesday.

"We have written to the Google authorities to get permission of the Indian government for filming Bangalore for its Street View project in its `Maps` platform as it is a sensitive exercise," Bangalore Additional Commissioner T. Sunil Kumar said.

Confirming that it received the letter from city Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji, a Google India spokesperson said it had stopped its cars from filming the streets and localities across Bangalore since Monday.

"As we are currently reviewing it (the Street View project), we have stopped our cars from filming until we have a chance to answer any question or concerns the police have," the spokesperson told IANS.

Google`s Indian subsidiary announced May 26 its plans to offer street view of Indian cities on its "Maps" platform beginning with Bangalore to empower the people with information and data.

"We are launching the Street View project from Bangalore as it is the IT capital of India where IT-savvy users will be able to leverage the benefits of the facility optimally," Google India product head Vinay Goel told reporters here last month at a preview of its latest product offering.

Though Google India claimed that it had clearances from the central and state governments to start shooting the streets and collecting imagery of the cities, Kumar said that written permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was necessary for filming high-profile cities like Bangalore as it involves security issues.

"Since Bangalore has been on the radar of terrorists and anti-national elements as a high target area, we are wary of its streets and areas being filmed and made available on Google Maps though its purpose is to help citizens get information for their benefit," Kumar asserted.

Clarifying that the city police was not against the project per se or its objective, Kumar said that as the exercise was the first of its kind being conducted to offer easy access to citizens or netizens, the authorities had to assess the pros and cons of such a facility keeping in view the security concerns.

"The government has to assess the benefits and fallout of such a facility as technology can be misused or abused by anyone. We need to study the whole exercise in consultation with our security agencies and take a call on it," Kumar added.

As a user-friendly feature of Google Maps, the US-based global IT major has already uploaded street view of about 100 cities in 27 countries the world over with a host of information for the benefit of users seeking specific details.

Google, however, agreed to consider requests from the government and law enforcement agencies to blur or block images in sensitive locations or of vital installations from security viewpoint or threat perception.


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