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Ganging up against Google

A top technical hand has advised the government to approach Google Earth to downgrade images of sensitive Indian installations on its website, but Delhi is unlikely to act in a hurry.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 00:02 IST

Atop technical hand has advised the government to approach Google Earth to downgrade images of sensitive Indian installations on its website, but Delhi is unlikely to act in a hurry.

Before making its move, India will take a close look at how other governments are coping with the possibility of terrorists misusing high-resolution images released by Google Earth.

The government has already formed an expert group to look into various aspects of the software and other similar technology that integrates satellite and aerial images with mapping capabilities to give Internet surfers a bird’s eye view of the world.

The head of the country’s principal mapping organisation, surveyor-general of India Major-General Gopal Rao, told the Hindustan Times that the government could ask the US-headquartered company to reduce the resolution of images of sensitive locations or even blur the details.

“This is something that’s technically feasible, something that Google has done for the US government,” said Rao. Microsoft, which has a similar project, Windows Local Live, has appreciated India's security concerns and promised to keep them in mind when it releases imagery covering India.

VS Ramamurthy, secretary, Science and Technology Department, was non-committal. He said the expert group would look into all related issues. The group was formed after President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam pointed out to senior police officers, inadequacies in national law and international conventions on display of spatial observations. “The group will also study what other countries have done,” said Ramamurthy.

Google has declared that it is willing to discuss the government’s concerns. Officials interpret the statement as Google not being averse to the idea of blurring details.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 00:02 IST