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India's Geospatial Bill Creates Curosity, Generates Controversy

By: Kamala Sripada

CNN-News18

Last Updated: June 01, 2016, 13:14 IST

The draft Bill prevents creation of any geospatial data and defines it as geographical information relating to national boundaries along with man-made physical features.

The draft Bill prevents creation of any geospatial data and defines it as geographical information relating to national boundaries along with man-made physical features.

The Home Ministry's draft says that one needs a license to generate any geospatial data.

New Delhi: Helping people in times of emergency or calamity can soon become a thing of past if the government proposed Geospatial Information Bill becomes an Act. The draft Bill prevents creation of any geospatial data and defines it as geographical information relating to national boundaries along with man-made physical features.

The Home Ministry's draft says that one needs a license to generate any geospatial data. It includes creating and sharing geographical information in India, sharing any digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features.

It also includes generating any information inimical to national interest. The violation of this may result in a fine of anything between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 100 crore and a jail term of up to seven years.

"We use latitude and longitude data to create map directions for delivery personnel. If we have to take a license for every time we do this, it will not be feasible," Lawrence Taur, founder of Find Me Now application, said.

"Many women use safety applications which is based on creating your location pin and sharing it with others. We won't be able to use these applications under this draft," said Shivani of Digital Empowerment Foundation.



The Home Ministry is seeking feedback and suggestions from public on the Bill till June 4.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju defended the controversial Bill saying India needs a law related to maps and it's not restrictive in nature.

"India is a growing nation. We must have a law related to our map. We must have certain regulations. This is not to curb the activities of the young generation but rather it is to facilitate them. But as I stated earlier also this is just a draft," Rijiju said.

Activists have begun a campaign 'Save The Map' against the Bill calling it draconian and dangerous to privacy of citizens.

As per the bill, government organisation and individuals working for government will be exempted. But government policies like panic button on mobile or smart city could be under threat if Parliament passes the Bill.
first published:June 01, 2016, 13:14 IST
last updated:June 01, 2016, 13:14 IST