Police investigate Google mapping contest

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Police investigate Google mapping contest

Govt agency complains competition illegal.

Police are investigating whether Google violated rules in a competition that asked users to add information about their local areas for its online map services, after a government agency raised security concerns.

Google, which ran the "Mapathon" contest in India in February and March, said its aim was to make more local information accessible to all. It said it did not break any laws.

Police are acting on a complaint filed by Survey of India, the country's national survey and mapping agency, which said the contest was illegal and may threaten national security.

"One complaint has been received and we are forwarding it to the cybercell for further action," said Chhaya Sharma, police deputy commissioner in New Delhi.

Google officials said the company was yet to receive an official communication from the police.

Google invited users to help "create better maps for India" by adding knowledge of their neighbourhoods and promised the top 1000 mappers prizes of tablets, smartphones and gift vouchers.

Survey of India first wrote to Google saying its "Mapathon" was illegal and then filed a police complaint, said R.C. Padhi, a top official at the agency.

"We have to ensure that security is not compromised at any cost," Padhi said, adding that some information uploaded on Google Maps could be "sensitive".

Google is open to discussing specific concerns over the issue with public authorities in India, Google India spokesperson Paroma Roy Chowdhury said in a statement.

"Google takes security and national regulations very seriously, and the Mapathon adhered to applicable laws," Roy Chowdhury said.

The investigation is the latest in a series of disputes between various governments and Google over privacy and security issues involving its mapping products.

In March, Google agreed to pay $US7 million in the United States to settle an investigation into an incident in which its Street View mapping cars allegedly collected passwords and other personal data from home wireless networks between 2008 and 2010.

In 2011, city police in Bangalore ordered Google to suspend a Street View service over security concerns, three weeks after the company started collecting images from the city.

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