PIL mapping and mainstream media

Hi all,

The post would be talking about a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed against Google Earth and other mapping stuff happening.

Confession/bias :- I like mapping quite a bit.

There was an interesting article in DNA today on the role played by Google Earth.

‘Google Earth has helped save lives’

Mayura Janwalkar
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:16 IST


“Technological advances that on the whole make people’s lives richer and easier, cannot be held back because of the misdeeds of a few people,” is Google India Private Limited’s (GIPL) answer to a PIL seeking a ban on Google Earth.

If that be the standard, then there may be similar reasons to roll back every technological development, which would include mobile and satellite phones,” the affidavit filed by Gitanjali Duggal, a constituted attorney for GIPL, said.

Within a fortnight of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, a PIL filed by advocate Amit Karkhanis had sought a blanket ban on the website that allegedly shows real time satellite images of any location in the world on the internet. The PIL stated that the website could be used by terrorists to study an area minutely before attacking it.

Advocate Jamshed Mistry said that the court would now hear the case on March 12.
However, Duggal, in the affidavit, stated that GIPL was only a subsidiary of Google Inc. and had no control over Google Earth that is owned by the parent company. Moreover, her affidavit said that the images on Google Earth were not real time and that it was “impossible” to show real time satellite images.

Google Earth, in no manner, breaches the National Security Act, 1980 as it does not violate the fundamental right of any citizen, it said.

Duggal explained how Google Earth aided NGOs and government bodies at the time of natural calamities. “In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many rescuers reported that they were able to save precious lives with the help of Google Earth.”

Source :-  DNA Mumbai

What is really interesting is what he said as well as what was not said as well. While there was a PIL against Google Earth why there wasn’t a PIL against mainstream media where it has been found to be much more wanting.

For e.g. there is the case/issue of a blogger, Mr. Chaitanya Kunte who opined that the beloved/most hated (take your pick) media journalist/editor Ms. Barkha Dutt had said a tad bit too much. Couple of blogs which talk about the same.

Aside from the fact that GE has data which is 3 years behind time, what about ISRO’s Bhuvan or any of the other military/commercial reconnaissance/mapping satellites.

The link given are of sanitized commercial mapping but there are definitely many more avenues for the same. If somebody really wants and has the money can get some very detailed maps of places. Its only the innocent ones (like trekkers and their ilk who have to fight bureacracy to get some decent maps)

There are also resources like OSM and its brethen/ilk which promise to bring greater clarity and accuracy to existing methods of mapping.

As somebody who has used google and yahoo maps quite a bit there is lot of inconsistencies/wrong information in both the maps and hence the need.

Also users (like me) would like to know what path I trekked or whatever I did either for myself or to share with the world.

Imagine a blog where one maintains a daily diary of trekking/whatever and also has a map so one can go alongwith them on the virtual tour (alongwith digital/video shots to complete the triad.

Would be great for education or leisure to say simply.

So I don’t think we should have an ostrich like mentality regarding mapping as a whole but rather take the effort to understand and use it to the best of our abilities. Technology is amoral, its upto us as individuals the responsibility to use it the best way possible.


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