The Modi government is all set to come out with a law, Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, that will make it punishable if you show the wrong map of India.
Anyone who depicts Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh as belonging to other countries or even as disputed territories will be penalised with a fine ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to seven years, reported the DNA.
The proposed Bill forbids wrong depiction, dissemination, publication or acquisition of India’s geospatial information (geographical features including maps). It states,
“No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India, including international boundaries through Internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form.”
The government plans to table the Bill in the next session of Parliament. The move has come after India lodged a complaint with both Twitter and Google a few months ago for showing incorrect maps of India. The social networks had shown Jammu as being part of Pakistan and Kashmir as part of China, reported The Indian Express.
Currently, any wrong depiction of India’s map is dealt under Section 69A in The Information Technology Act. In case of any transgression, the government blocks access to online links as it did last year when it banned Al-Jazeera channel for 5 days for showing a wrong map, reported The Economic Times.
If the Bill passes through both houses of Parliament, then no person or company will be able to acquire geospatial imagery or data of any part of India either through space or any aerial means like satellite, airplanes, balloons, etc.
It will also ensure that online services like Google Maps or Google Earth will be able to use only that information which will be reviewed and cleared by a Security Vetting Authority (SVA) to be formed under the Union home ministry.
This will pose a problem for apps and services that use crowd sourcing to build their maps and keep their information up to date, such as Ola and Uber. Under the proposed Bill, this could become illegal, reported the Hindustan Times.