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.
Even though the Bill is only in the draft stage and has been opened up for suggestions, it is important to understand its salient features:
What does “geospatial information” mean?
According to the draft it means:
- Geospatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles
- Graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth
- Any information related thereto including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to a co-ordinate system and having attributes;
What does the Bill say?
In simple terms, any addition or creation of anything that has to do with any geospatial information - or location - within the territory of India will need the permission of the government or, in this case, a Security Vetting Authority.
What does Security VettingAuthority do?
It grants licenses to organisations/individuals who want to use geospatial data. It will check the content and data provided and make sure it is well within national policies, “with the sole objective of protecting national security, sovereignty, safety and integrity”
Who will this impact?
Every person, every business which uses location as a major feature to function. Apart from the usual Google, this includes other apps like Ola, Uber, Zomato, AirBnB and Oyo. It also includes Twitter and Facebook which can track your location. Datameet, an online community of data scientists, have put together a complete list >here .
What happens if I violate this law (if it becomes one)?
Illegal acquisition of geospatial information of India - Fine ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.
Illegal dissemination, publication or distribution of geospatial information of India - Whoever disseminates, publishes or distributesany geospatial information of India in contravention of section 4, shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.
Use of geospatial information of India outside India - Fine ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 100 croreand/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.