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Google Earth faces lawsuit over Mumbai terror attacks

India's financial capital Mumbai came under terrorists' target on November 26. File photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): Popular mapping site Google Earth has once again landed in legal soup in the wake of recent terror strikes in Mumbai.


A local lawyer has filed a suit in the Mumbai high court, demanding ban on the mapping site on the ground that terrorists planned their attacks in the country’s financial hub on the basis of information available on Google Earth.


The petition is likely to come up for hearing on December 18.


The Mumbai attackers laid a siege at a Jewish Centre, Chhatrapati Shivaji station and two luxury hotels – Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi Trident. All the three locations are in crowded South Mumbai. The attackers knew the geography of the city well. More than 180 people were killed in the attacks while several hundreds were injured.


In the suit, lawyer Amit Karkhani has demanded that Google Earth should block images of vital installations like the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre which powers Mumbai. The Ministries of Defence and Science and Technology have also been made parties in the legal suit. They would present their point of view on the issue before the court during the hearing of the suit.


Google Earth has come under the scanner of security agencies all over the world. The agencies have asked the site, a subsidiary of popular search engine Google, to block images of vital installations.


The website provides satellite pictures in 50 cm resolution of the globe. The images go down to the last possible details of any city, town or village on earth.


Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, also a well-known missile scientist, had raised concerns about the security hazard posed by Google Earth. He had advocated blocking the images of sensitive locations.


Mapping in India is a restrictive business and only the Survey of India (SoI) is authorised to release maps. A part of the map making process has been privatised as military locations and sensitive sites are blocked by SoI.


But those defending the website claim that Google Earth provides information which is already available in public domain. It is also open to the idea of blocking certain images on any specific request from a security agency or governments. The information is also used for the benefit of people who log on to the site in millions.

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