By Prarthana Mitra
The Indian government has denied Google’s proposal to launch their interactive ‘Street View’ service in India, announced Union Home Minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Tuesday. Google had submitted the proposal in 2015 for its ‘Street View’ service that allows users to explore places using a 360-degree panoramic imagery.
Although Ahir didn’t give a reason for the rejection, media reports earlier this year said the defence ministry objected to the unscrupulous image-capturing encouraged by the technology and believed it could be a threat to security.
Google launched Street View in 2007 and since then, it is being actively used in 76 countries around the world. Using street-level interactive 3D imagery and 360-degree rotation videos, the feature enables you to explore cities all over the world on your smartphone, provided they are listed on the Street View application with government approval.
The technology implemented by Google makes use of cameras mounted on a moving vehicle to record and upload video and geodata simultaneously. These images are also frequently updated thus highlighting the level of detail and resource-intensive work that goes into the tech behind Street View.
Could Street View be a tool for terrorist reconnaissance?
Google had launched Street View on an experimental basis, to target tourists travelling to popular sites like the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Varanasi, Nalanda University, Mysore Palace, Thanjavur temple and others, in collaboration with the Archaeological Society of India.
However, authorities in charge of national security fear that such a feature which allows access to Indian topography in 360 panoramic and high-resolution imagery can compromise its security. Terrorists can harness this data and plan insurrections with accuracy, as in the case of Pathankot terror attack this year. It was believed by investigating agencies that terrorists behind the attack used Google Maps to uncover the structure of the airbase.
Besides the controversy over Street View, Delhi High Court also expressed concern about “sensitive” locations such as defence installations and nuclear power plants being visible on the online map in January.
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