Just a few brief weeks after Google Street View cars started driving on the streets of Bangalore, India, Google has halted its efforts. It’s been confirmed that this is the result of an official notice from the Bangalore Chief of Police.
According to a Google spokesperson, Google “received a letter from the Commissioner of Police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the Police have.”
There has been some confusion on why Google is being halted, however, since Google stated they were working with the authorities when they started the project last month. “Google is coordinating with the local police and federal government agencies to get clearances and keep them informed about what the company is doing,” said Vinay Goel, product head of Google India, according to CIO.
Apparently Google hasn’t shown the proper paperwork.
“They (Google) said they had the necessary clearances, including that from the ministry of defence, but so far they have not produced these,” assistant commissioner, T Sunil Kumar told Business Standard. “So, we have asked them to produce the documents before going ahead.”
The anonymous tipster who first released the story to MediaNama indicated that it may be due to laws governing publishers inside India. “At present there are several restrictions on foreigners to collect photgraphs,” said the tipster, “and there is also a foreign direct investment policy (FDI policy) on investments and participation by foreign comanpanies [sic] in Indian media.”
The case raises certain questions about Indian policy: Is a search engine that includes image data consider a “publisher” in the case of Google Street View? How does the FDI, which restricts foreign investments in Indian companies, impact Google? And will Google be able to produce the clearance necessary to continue the project?
In any case, India isn’t the first country to bring up concerns with or completely halt Google Street View. In addition to being banned in the Czech Republic, Greece, and several other regions, Google has faced dozens of Street View–related lawsuits in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.