Censorship in India coming?

[See the update below]

A strange report by AFX this morning, referencing a Times of India article that I can’t quite find online:

Google Earth to blur key India sites amid security concerns – report

NEW DELHI (AFX) – Google’s satellite image service will blur strategic Indian locations such as government buildings and military sites after security concerns were voiced by the country’s president, the Times of India reported, quoting unnamed officials.

Google (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ) Earth will not only blur pictures of sites that the Indian government considers sensitive, but also distort building plans of key facilities, the report said.

It said that Google representatives met Indian officials from the science and technology ministry recently to discuss the issue.

Google Earth will accept the government’s list of strategic sites that need to be masked, the report said.

Times of India is notoriously inaccurate, jingoistic and prone to optimistic reporting, so I’m taking this report with a grain of salt until I get confirmation. Most likely, Indian government officials, emboldened by the news of Google reverting its dataset to pre-war imagery of Basra, have now submitted a list of items they would like censored on Google Earth, and Google have promised to consider them. But then again, Google has just acquiesced to a censorship request in Iraq, so why not in India? If some security concerns are legitimate, why not all of them? Who are we to decide? Trust the government in situations like this. Any government will do.

In case you’re wondering if the censored Basra imagery is available on the web today — yes it is, and via the Google Maps API. Just ask for the right dataset in your JavaScript, and the imagery from September 2004 is still served up.

(Written in a lovely cafe on a snowy Sunday in Helsinki.)

[Update 2007-02-05: Here is Google's on-the-record response:

"We were pleased to have the dialogue, which was substantive and constructive but no agreements have been made," a spokeswoman for Google India said Monday.

Seems like Times of India jumped the gun. Again.]

4 thoughts on “Censorship in India coming?”

  1. I don’t know about Google Earth, but for the past hour or two I’ve not been able to access any blogs that use Blogger! Is this round 2 of The Indian Blog Block? I can read blogs on WordPress, though. I subscribe to almost equal number of both.

  2. I don’t know about Google Earth, but for the past hour or two I’ve not been able to access any blogs that use Blogger! Is this round 2 of The Indian Blog Block? I can read blogs on WordPress, though. I subscribe to almost equal number of both.

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