India’s national surveying agency has filed a police complaint against Google over a contest organised by the firm for its Map Maker application, a senior official said on Friday.
The software giant organised its “Mapathon 2013” competition from February to March, asking Indian users to send in details of restaurants, hospitals, shops, addresses and street names using the Google Map Maker service.
R.C. Padhi, major general of the Survey of India, told AFP that his office had filed a police complaint against Google in Delhi last week because of a possible security risk.
“We filed a complaint against Google because Mapathon 2013 is not in accordance with Indian law or our national mapping policy and it has serious security implications,” Padhi said.
Padhi said that Map Maker users might send in information revealing sensitive details of security installations and defence establishments.
“How will the common man know what is an installation or not, what is a security risk or not? You cannot just publish a map online using any data without getting clearance from the right government authorities,” he said.
He added that he had not yet seen any Google maps showing sensitive addresses or buildings.
A Google India statement released to AFP said that the company organised the contest to encourage Indians to use Map Maker, which was launched in the country in 2008.
“Relevant Indian authorities, including the ministry of science and technology and the surveyor general of India, have been briefed on Map Maker, which complies with all applicable laws,” the statement said.
“We take security and national regulations very seriously, and we’re open to discussing specific concerns with public authorities and officials.”
A senior police official in Delhi told AFP they had received the complaint, but had not registered an first information report (FIR) which is the first step in a criminal case.
“We have received the complaint and have passed it on to our cyber crimes cell. No investigation has been launched yet,” Chhaya Sharma, a deputy commissioner of police in south Delhi said.
Google has run into problems with Indian authorities in the past, particularly over its mapping services.
Indian police in the software hub of Bangalore ordered the company to stop taking photographs of the city in June 2011 for its Street View product because of fears the images could be used by militants.
Street View, which allows users to see places around the world from a 360-degree view is currently unavailable for India.