The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has quizzed four senior officials — including two foreigners — of internet giant Google as part of its preliminary probe against it over the Mapathon 2013 — a competition to map utilities across India.
Google had organised a mapping competition in 2013 allegedly without requisite government permissions in violation of Survey of India (SoI)’s norms following which the SoI — country’s official mapping agency — had lodged a complaint with the Union home ministry (MHA). “We have examined four senior Google officials in connection with the PE lodged by us against the firm. One of the officials is a London-based technologist, a foreigner, whose clarifications were sought via video-conferencing,” said a CBI source.
The source said, “Clarifications were also sought from another official, who is a California-based engineer with the firm, who came to Delhi for the purpose and two other senior officials of Google India.” According to the source, the agency interacted with three of the Google officials along with a top SoI official for clarifications. HT had first reported on July 26 that the CBI had taken over the probe.
When asked by HT, a Google spokesperson said, “Our products, including Google Maps, are built with the goal of helping make local information, such as new shopping malls, nearby emergency services centers, and educational institutes, more accessible to all. We take national regulations and security very seriously, and continue to be in touch with relevant authorities.”
Initially the home ministry had asked Delhi Police to investigate but after its reluctance, MHA asked the CBI to investigate. The competition ‘Mapathon 2013’, which was organised in February-March last year, had asked citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially the details related to hospitals and restaurants.
The SoI had claimed that when it had asked the firm to send the entries, it found several entries containing details on sensitive defence installations that are not in the public domain, the source said.