Google In Trouble Again; CBI Initiates Enquiry Into Mapathon 2013 For Mapping Sensitive Areas


With the best of intentions, Google had launched a unique contest to create better and detailed maps of India called Mapathon 2013. The event started on February 12 and ended on March 25, 2013 wherein Indians were invited to add details regarding their local maps. Focus was on mapping more hospitals, restaurants and hotels into the central repository of Google Maps.

After more than a year of this contest, Indian Government has realized that this contest of mapping India was illegal!

Surveyor General of India’s office has lodged a complaint with the Union Home Ministry, which has asked CBI to initiate an enquiry into this fiasco.

As per the allegations, Google has violated Indian laws by mapping sensitive areas and defense locations, which should have been kept as secret.


Infact, the areas which were covered in this contest, which resulted in them being added to the maps of India as showcased on Google Maps was never intended to be included in any map, due to the sensitivity of the locations.

Some analysts have said that this mapping of prohibited areas of Indian defense may lead to terrorist activities and this action has put the lives of our soldiers in danger.

Another allegation which has cropped up includes permission of mapping itself. As per the Government of India law, Google should have taken due prior permission from Survey of India to carry forward this contest, but it seems no such permission was asked. CBI is in talks with Indian Army to collaborate this investigation, as most of the ‘hidden’ areas which were mapped belonged to them.

If we observe the laws, then as per National Map Policy 2005, it states,

“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.”

Survey of India, which is India’s national Mapping and Survey Organization under Department of Science and Technology has also asked Google to provide all the co-ordinates and details of defense establishments which have been mapped as a result of this contest. The locations and co-ordinates of these locations were supposed to be out of public domain.

Google has responded by stating, “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.”

We will keep you updated as the investigation by CBI unfolds.

  1. […] more than a year of Google Mapathon 2013, Indian Government has realized that this contest of mapping India was illegal and has initiated a […]

  2. Raghav says

    To hell with the Govt! There are high resolution satellites of China & US peeping right into our security establishments and our Government is so worried about consumer grade maps? I think they are unnecessarily wasting time, resources and misleading the public :(
    They should compare Google Maps with ISRO’s Bhuvan and learn how to make good, usable maps first and then go witch hunting.

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