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As deadline nears, request for SavetheMap from Geospatial Bill gains momentum

People behind the SavetheMap initiative have created a website detailing the various clauses of the Bill and are asking people to send their comments to the government.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jun 03, 2016, 06.17 AM IST
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People behind the SavetheMap initiative have created a website detailing the various clauses of the Bill and are asking people to send their comments to the government. (Representative image)
People behind the SavetheMap initiative have created a website detailing the various clauses of the Bill and are asking people to send their comments to the government. (Representative image)
NEW DELHI: As the deadline for the controversial Geospatial Bill draws to a close over the weekend, various agencies are requesting common users to sign petitions voicing their concerns against the Bill. At the forefront are the SavetheMap initiative and the Digital Empowerment Foundation that are running campaigns to get a maximum number of people to send their responses to the ministry of home affairs before the close of the deadline.

People behind the SavetheMap initiative, which was started soon after the draft of Geospatial Information Regulation Bill that was released in the first week of May seeking public comments, have created a website detailing the various clauses of the Bill and are asking people to send their comments to the government.

There is also a template response available on the website that can also be emailed. “Ready to wait 3 months to “share your location” on WhatsApp with your friend? On May 4th, 2016 the Ministry of Home Affairs published a bill that controls the acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information in and outside India.

This bill could make your daily use of maps illegal by requiring a 3 month vetting and approval process for any use of mapping,” reads a header on the website.

Sajjad Anwar, a GIS expert who is leading the SavetheMap campaign said that so far around 1,000 people have sent in their responses using the template. “Given the area is such a complicated one, I would say that 1,000 is a good number to go with for now,” said Anwar.

The draft says that anyone mapping India by using a satellite or aerial platform will need a licence from a government security vetting authority (SVA).

According to experts, the proposed law will bring into its ambit not just companies or agencies using maps for professional reasons but anybody with a smartphone that is GPS enabled.

Addressed to the Joint Secretary (Internal Security-I), Ministry of Home Affairs, the letter says that geospatial information that is being crowdsourced to support disaster response efforts, or if someone shares her/his location to request emergency services would be blocked because of the permission and security vetting process.

“I understand that the Bill may not have been written to be applied to such situations described above. But the scope of the Bill is very wide, and may strongly discourage innovation and everyday usages of maps in India,” it says.

The letter request the authorities to limit the applicability of the Bill to only standardised depiction of national boundary of India, and depiction of intelligence, military, and other security establishments.

On the other hand, the DEF has also drafted a petition in through Change.org and is requesting people to sign it. “What the drafters do not realise is that the draft is in absolute contradiction with the Government of India’s (GoI) wonderful promises of development, that include initiatives such as Digital India Plan or Start Up India plan and the Open Government Data online platform,” says the petition.

The long term implications on the work of academics, scientific or social researches, civil society, IT tool developers, humanitarian or relief workers to name a few, have not been considered, it adds.

Also Read

Parliamentary panel chief backs draft Geospatial Bill

Geospatial bill: Unquestionable faith in boundaries and accompanying hazards

Savethemap prepares draft response to the Geospatial Bill

Government studies public views to fine-tune geospatial bill

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