India's President, Abdul Kalam, has voiced public concern over Google Maps, an online mapping tool that mixes traditional maps with satellite photographs, via an online interface.
Kalam, talking after a meeting with security officials, said that "developing countries, which are already in danger of terrorist attacks, have been singularly chosen". Kalam went on to talk about setting up new laws to control data dissemination at a national level, and described UN recommendations on the topic 'inadequate'.
A Google spokeswoman said that "Google takes governmental concerns about Google Earth and Google Maps very seriously. Google welcomes dialogue with governments, and we will be happy to talk to Indian authorities about any concerns they may have." The company also added that the images were not live and were often two years or more older.
India is not the only country that has voiced concerns over Google Maps. South Korea, The Netherlands and the United States government have all raised concern publicly about the potential for abuse. So far, it would appear that only the US government has been successful in forcing the company to edit map images.
Is Google Maps really open to abuse? Perhaps. It is easy, however, to forget that most of the content is already available in one form or another. Google's aim, as stated, is to "build products that organize the world's information"; the company has simply pulled the information together via a very simple tool. One can hardly moan at them for trying.