Controlling maps in the days of satellite imaging

We recently came across this story. Apparently India is considering enacting laws which would require companies providing mapping data to get a licence and approval before disseminating maps of any kind within India. The government appears to have two major concerns. One is the correct depiction of India’s borders (as claimed by India in the case of disputed borders), and the other is a security concern about showing sensitive sites on maps.

Almost every country has had some form of censorship laws with regards to maps, but most have largely given up due to the proliferation of maps and imagery that they have no control over.

We have in the past looked at censored imagery in Google Earth, and in most cases it is aerial imagery, which a country does have legal control over. However, most obviously censored locations have alternative uncensored imagery and the censorship only serves to draw attention to the location. Censoring satellite imagery is difficult, but not impossible. If you look at the maps of imagery updates over the last year then you will notice that Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria have not had any updates in the past year. We have also noticed that the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea also have not received any updates since they started to get attention due to China building artificial islands there. We do not know if this is a case of censorship or not. Hawaii, has also not received updates in the same time period and we can think of no reason why that would be censored.

Several countries have apparently censored 3D imagery, most noticeably, Greece, where Airports do not receive 3D coverage. But they do have satellite imagery and in some cases Street View.


The 3D imagery around Larrisa, Greece, clearly avoids the airport.

China has strong laws about mapping and insists on its maps being offset slightly from GPS coordinates for security reasons. In this they have been largely successful, but they have no control over satellite imagery when viewed outside China, so that is correctly aligned.

Disputed borders are often displayed differently, depending on which country you view them from in order to comply with the laws of the countries in question and the same may apply to disputed names of geographic features.

The end result of all this is that censorship laws on maps typically only affect the citizens of the country in question as the laws are unenforceable outside the country’s borders.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. I would be using goggle earth if it would install.

    I do have version 6 that works on my laptop.

    It seems that the versions 7 and 8 are not full version and is for 64 and 128 bit computers.

    When I downed the free pro version, it was bjust the installer.

    And when I changed the subdirectory to c:\GE_OPS\ it refused to load and wants to go to programs sub directory where I do not want it there.

    So, to the writers of Google earth…. GET IT RIGHT!!!! OR You will have less users, observers, and participants.

    I suggest to make it full version to be downed without a installer to where one has to do is unzip it into the sub directory and run setup.exe for it to be ran in the sub directory one wants.

    I am very disappointed satisfied with GE 7 and up!!!

    Seven. Three
    Ed – KB8QEU

  2. http://Max says

    I found your blog randomly, I’m from Larisa (Greece) and this is a military airport and it’s not available to the public. That’s why it doesn’t support 3D coverage 🙂

    • http://Timothy%20Whitehead says

      As far as I know, all airports in Greece have no 3D coverage.



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.