Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Google, don’t be evil on India!

It seems Google has forgotten to follow its `Don’t be Evil’ motto when it comes to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Controversy has once again surrounded search engine giant Google. Strangely, for a second time, it revolves around its depiction of Arunachal Pradesh.

If you browse through Google Maps, the application has at least three different versions on the state either a part of India or China, and a third as a disputed territory. All this despite fact that the north eastern state has a democratically elected government and should so not be an undisputed territory in any case.

What throws up when you open Google India is politically correct Arunachal Pradesh remains a part of India. If you open the Google Maps’ China edition, Arunachal Pradesh would show itself as an undisputed part of China, the whole of it. But when you open the map available on the international edition, Arunachal Pradesh is shown as a disputed territory, a third version on the north eastern state.

Google has reacted to its three different takes on Arunachal Pradesh. Claiming it is only following standard practice to show all disputed regions around the world on its global properties, depict disputed regions as per the claims made by the disputing or claiming nations. Adding it does not in any way endorse or affirm the position taken by any side but merely provides complete information on the prevailing geo-political situation.

“Products that have been localized to the local domain of a region may depict that country's position as per the mandate of their local laws. As in the case of Google India and Google China,” Google said in a statement.

Remember in August this year, Google Earth came in for sharp criticism in India for what Google subsequently described as a mistaken use of Chinese script to mark areas in Arunachal Pradesh. “Earlier this week, as part of routine update to Google Earth, we published new data for the Arunachal Pradesh region that changed the depiction of certain place names in the product. The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data,” said Google in an earlier statement.