Iran set to launch Google Earth rival

Got GeoInt? flags a great story: Iran’s military is launching a Google Earth competitor, slated to go live later this week, according to the Iranian Mehr news agency and Tehran Times.

According to Brigadier-General Mohammad Hasan Nami, head of the armed forces’ geographical affairs organization, the web service will be called Basir, and is motivated to counter the “cultural aggression” of Google Earth/Maps against Islamic countries.

Google Earth is also accused of “distorting history”; while he doesn’t specifically refer to it, the Brigadier-General is no doubt referring to Google’s naming policy, which has resulted in the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia to be labelled both Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf. This has irritated the more literal-minded Iranians to no end, and resulted in both a protest from the Iranian foreign ministry and an online petition signed by 1,245,781 people last time I checked.

With Basir, Iran will now be able to call the Gulf anything it wants.

When asked to differentiate Basir from Google Earth, Brigadier-General names a qibla-finding tool — Which calculates the direction to Mecca, for prayer. Alas, due to the Google Maps API, qibla finders are now a dime a dozen.

But the most fantastical feature attributed to Basir by the Brigadier-General is the fact that “it can prevent certain websites such as the ‘Google Earth’ from gathering information about other countries.” I suspect something got lost in translation but I’ll have a guess at what he means: Now that Iranians will have access to a Google Earth/Maps substitute, it will be easier for the regime to justify blocking Google’s mapping services. After all, Google Earth is cultural aggression, so surely the next step is to block it.

2 thoughts on “Iran set to launch Google Earth rival”

  1. The Persian Gulf has been named that since the days of Herodotus. So if over a million people think that Google is wrong in re-naming it, then perhaps it really is a case of cultural aggression after all, isn’t it?

  2. As you say, it will be less easier for the US regime to justify hiding and misspelling areas on Google’s mapping services. After all, Basir is cultural aggression, so surely the next step is to block it.

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