Geospatial Information Regulation Bill : a licence to kill innovation

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The Ministry of Home Affairs on May 4, 2016 released a draft of “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016.” According to the draft it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.

The draft bill lays down that without the permission of a proposed Security Vetting Authority “no person shall acquire geospatial imagery or data including value addition of any part of India either through any space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles or terrestrial vehicles, or any other means whatsoever "

Although the Bill is only in the draft stage and has been opened up for suggestions, but it is important to understand the salient features and why it raised some questions among public ?

All you need to know about the draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill: Why the… SPS®

— Sanjeev P Saikia (@Ni4u) May 9, 2016

What is Geospatial information ?

Geospatial information, also known as location information is the graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth. It can be acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles.

What does the Bill say ?

According to the draft any addition or creation of anything that has to do with any geospatial information - or location - without the permission of a proposed Security Vetting Authority, within the territory of India will be a crime and it provides for stringent punishment ranging from a fine of up to 100 crore rupees to a 7-year jail term.You may be accused even if you publish a wrong map of India.

Who will be impacted  ?

The move could affect every person, every business which uses location as a major feature to function including taxi aggregators Ola and Uber, courier and logistics companies, e-retailers, food apps that use digital maps to deliver products and services.

Twitter, Facebook and applications like Swiggy and Zomato which share location, could also come under the purview of the Bill along with property discovery sites like, Magic Bricks and 99 Acres.

Motive of the government : The main motive of the govt behind this draft is to protect geospatial data from going in to wrong hands as it could be used by various terrorist groups to plan attacks on country’s strategic installations without risking a recce mission. Indian investigators who probed the 2008 Mumbai attack belive that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were shown their targets on apps such as Google Earth by their speriors prior to the strike.

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