* National mapping agency raises security concerns
* BJP lawmaker complains over "Mapathon" contest
* Company says contest adhered to Indian laws
By Devidutta Tripathy
NEW DELHI, April 5 Police in India are
investigating to determine whether U.S. Internet giant Google
Inc violated rules in a competition that asked users to
add information about their local areas for its online map
services after a government agency raised security concerns.
Google, which ran the "Mapathon" in India in February and
March, said its aim was to make more local information
accessible to all and that it did not break any laws.
Police are acting on a complaint filed by Survey of India,
the country's national survey and mapping agency, which said the
contest was illegal and may threaten national security.
"One complaint has been received and we are forwarding it to
the cybercell for further action," said Chhaya Sharma, a deputy
commissioner of police in New Delhi.
Google officials said the company had not yet received an
official communication from the police.
Google invited users to help "create better maps for India"
by adding knowledge of their neighbourhoods and promised the top
1,000 mappers prizes of tablets, smartphones and gift vouchers.
Survey of India first wrote to Google saying its "Mapathon"
was against rules and then filed a police complaint, R.C. Padhi,
a top official at the agency, told Reuters.
"We have to ensure that security is not compromised at any
cost," Padhi said, adding that some information uploaded on
Google Maps could be "sensitive".
Google is open to discussing specific concerns over the
issue with public authorities in India, Paroma Roy Chowdhury, a
company spokeswoman in India said in a statement.
"Google takes security and national regulations very
seriously, and the Mapathon adhered to applicable laws," Roy
LATEST IN SERIES OF DISPUTES
The investigation is the latest in a series of disputes
between various governments and Google over privacy and security
issues involving its popular mapping products.
In March, Google agreed to pay $7 million in the United
States to settle an investigation into an incident in which its
Street View mapping cars allegedly collected passwords and other
personal data from home wireless networks between 2008 and
In 2011, city police in the southern Indian technology hub
of Bangalore ordered Google to suspend a Street View service
over security concerns, three weeks after the company started
collecting images from the city.
Tarun Vijay, a lawmaker from India's main opposition
Bharatiya Janata Party, last month complained to the government
over the "Mapathon" contest.
"Will we allow any Indian organisation to invite people for
mapping their localities and have entire data stored in USA?
Special to Google?," Vijay wrote on the Twitter social
networking site on March 20.
"If there is a law, it has to be followed. I have asked
whether Google followed the law," Vjay told Reuters on Friday,
after meeting India's defence and interior ministers over the
issue. "I have taken up that they should be acting urgently."
Separately, Google and other social media companies are also
fighting a criminal case brought by an Indian journalist related
to allegedly "offensive" content on their web sites.