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Drawing India’s Borders Incorrectly Might Cost Millions

The bill also mandates that all individuals and companies producing maps in India, and all Indian citizens doing so globally should procure a license from the government

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The Border Guard of Bangladesh protested against the incident and sent a letter to its counterparts. Image source: dhakatribune.com
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On May 5, the Indian government uploaded a draft bill called “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016”, which was later removed for various reasons, proposing to punish any person in India or any Indian abroad for publishing or distributing maps, online or in physical form, with “wrong or false topographic information”-in other words, maps with boundaries that don’t match the government’s.

The draft bill specifies “No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form. Whoever acquired any geospatial information of India in contravention of the law shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rs 1 crore ($150,000) to Rs 100 crore ($15 million) and or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.”

A map showing the disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu. Image source: VOA news
A map showing the disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu. Image source: VOA news

The bill also mandates that all individuals and companies producing maps in India, and all Indian citizens doing so globally should procure a license from the government.

Citizens and stakeholders will have 30 days to comment 30 days to comment on the proposed bill, released to the public on Wednesday, May 25.

ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS:

The government also has proposed to set up a Security Vetting Authority to carry out security vetting of the Geospatial Information of India in a time bound manner and as per the regulations framed by an apex committee. According to the draft bill, the Security Vetting Authority, on receipt of an application and after examining the application in terms of the guidelines, shall either grant the license or reject the application as the case may be. The act will extend to the whole of India and also applies to citizens of India outside India, persons in the service of the government, persons on ships and aircrafts, registered in India, any person who commits an offence beyond India.

The Draft Bill will ensure that online platforms like Google will have to apply for a licence to run Google Maps or Google Earth in India.

ORIGIN:

This issue was triggered at a time when international agencies, social networking sites and online services such as Google Maps was showing regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Pakistan and China respectively.

Trouble is, the Indian government’s definition of its borders are drawn not according to the area it controls, but rather as if all of its ongoing territorial disputes with China and Pakistan were already settled in India’s favor.

Image caption China and India fought a brief war over their disputed Himalayan borders in 1962. Image source: BBC
China and India fought a brief war over their disputed Himalayan borders in 1962. Image source: BBC

This is not the first time India has shown its sensitivity about the representation of its borders. The country admonished Google, first in December 2005 and then again in 2013, for showing Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of Pakistan in various Google products. A 2014 report from the US Department of Defense made the same cartographic choice, catching the attention of Indian media. Now, Google Maps won’t highlight any borders of the country.

HOW THIS IS RELATED TO MODI GOVERNMENT

The draft law is in line with the nationalist agenda of India’s two-year-old government led by Narendra Modi. His government’s supporters have brought what they see to be numerous map-based transgressions to the fore through social media. A year ago, Al Jazeera was forced to stop broadcasting in the country for five days after the surveyor general announced that “a portion of Indian territory has not been shown as a part of India in some of [Al Jazeera’s] maps while the territorial boundary of India is not shown with clarity and proper shape in another map.”

Of course, if Pakistan and China, which also are sensitive about their borders, started prosecuting under similar laws, it would be impossible to make a map of the region including political borders without running afoul of any of the nations’ laws.

-by Pavithraa Swaminathan

Pavithraa is a blogger and an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @Pavith_peaked

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This was necessary as to stop people getting false information. This could create issues and riots as there is already a threat to our state J&K

  • Shivang Goel

    There were numerous events and incidents last year relating to the political boundaries of India,even Australia too made the mistake earlier,anyways as far as penalties are concerned it would be difficult to even apply these penalties on International institutions like Maps,because they doesnt comes in any jurisdiction,also Government has to pay a fair amount to include the clause in their existing agreement ,all n all a good step forward to minimize minute of chances over the issue

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    India-Pakistan border is among the most sensitive borders of the world and so sensitive is the issue of J&K. This was a necessary step to be taken in order to avoid any more conflicts and riots.

  • devika todi

    such a step needed to be taken. people should be correctly informed about the border lines of the country.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This was necessary as to stop people getting false information. This could create issues and riots as there is already a threat to our state J&K

  • Shivang Goel

    There were numerous events and incidents last year relating to the political boundaries of India,even Australia too made the mistake earlier,anyways as far as penalties are concerned it would be difficult to even apply these penalties on International institutions like Maps,because they doesnt comes in any jurisdiction,also Government has to pay a fair amount to include the clause in their existing agreement ,all n all a good step forward to minimize minute of chances over the issue

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    India-Pakistan border is among the most sensitive borders of the world and so sensitive is the issue of J&K. This was a necessary step to be taken in order to avoid any more conflicts and riots.

  • devika todi

    such a step needed to be taken. people should be correctly informed about the border lines of the country.

Next Story

Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

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Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

Also Read- Vivo To Invest Rs 4,000 Crore For New Plant in Uttar Pradesh

In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)