The CBI registered the PE based on a complaint filed by Surveyor General of India’s office to the Union Home Ministry in which Google was accused of had been indulging in activities of mapping several areas which were not included in the maps of the country, official sources said here.
The Internet giant had not taken permission from Survey of India, country’s official mapping agency, before organising a mapping competition in February-March 2013 when they asked citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants.
Alarmed by Mapathon, the Survey of India (SoI), India’s national survey and mapping organisation under the Department of Science and Technology, asked the Internet giant to share its details where they found that there were several coordinates having details of sensitive defence installations which are out of the public domain.
Highlighting the violations to the Home Ministry, the SoI said only it was mandated to undertake ‘Restricted’ category surveying and mapping, and no other government or private organisations or individual are authorised to do so.
As per the National Map Policy 2005, “the responsibility for producing, maintaining and disseminating the topographic map database of the whole country, which is the foundation of all spatial data, vests with the Survey of India”.
Responding to queries, Google India said, “We are in touch with relevant authorities and take national regulations and security very seriously. We are not aware of any privacy issues and have nothing more to share at this point in time.”
After initial probe by Delhi police, the case was handed to CBI as investigations required access to places across the country and, if need be, questioning of some individuals with the help of FBI as Google is incorporated in the US.
It was alleged that Google India had launched a nationwide contest and people might have passed on maps and other key details of strategic installations located in other cities and states to the US company, the sources added.
For SoI, it was clarified that the company never took any permission before undertaking the mapping exercise, and from national security point of view, civil and military Vital Areas, Vital Points (VPs) cannot be shown in the map/data published in public domain.
The CBI may be roping in some Army officials in its probe as some of the sensitive installations have allegedly been mapped in its services, the sources said.