Google launched its Street View galleries this past week for Amazon and Thailand without a hiccup, but the Internet giant was not-so lucky elsewhere, as it has faced many obstacles over its mapping applications throughout the globe—especially in Asia.
For those that live under a rock: Google Street View is a service highlighted in Google Maps and Google Earth that offers panoramic views of streets. It launched in 2007 in the United States and has expanded to many cities and rural areas worldwide.
A round up of Asia’s criticisms is below.
Japan forced Google to re-shoot its street level imagery in 2009 across 12 cities, because allegations surfaced claiming Google’s 360-degree camera—which is set atop a Street View vehicle— captured the insides of people’s homes.
Moreover, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications warned Google just last November to adhere with its privacy laws and issued a notice demanding Google delete all particulars cropped from Wi-Fi networks.
Police raided Google’s Seoul offices after reports (similar to Japan) indicated the Street View vehicle gathered data over Wi-Fi networks while snapping imagery.
Google’s Tokyo-based Communications Manager David Marx told Reuters that the stumbling blocks in Japan and South Korea are now resolved, and Street View is live in both countries.
“Japan has become one of the global highlights of Street View,” contended Marx.
China and India
Google yanked its search operations in China over a censorship debate in 2010. Its mapping service is still available and continuously charts the country, however, which leads to increasing protests in India over the past few years due to Google Earth and Google Maps’ outline of the China-India border.
Meanwhile, Google’s aim to take street-level images of Bangalore were thronged by Indian police in 2011 (presumably over border disputes), but discussions are underway with the Indian government to find an avenue for moving forward.
Chinese and Indian laws demand all maps to adhere to each country’s official borders. This undoubtedly creates a quandary for Google, because it forces the search engine to illustrate multiple maps for the competing countries. There is now one plot for those viewing Google Maps in China, one for those in India, and another for the remainder of the world.
Cambodia and Vietnam
Cambodia also complained about its mapped border with Thailand, while Vietnam criticized the sketch of its maritime claims in the South China Sea that overlaps China and other countries. Google then made its maps offline to Vietnamese Internet users accessing the Chinese version of Google Maps.
It is worth mentioning that Street View rolled-out without complications in Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, and Thailand.
Google announced 360-degree images of Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai today in a blog post on the official Google Lat Long blog.
“We really want to show that Thailand isn’t still underwater,” Marx explained. “People should see Thailand for what it is.”
In related news, Google also launched spectacular Street View imagery yesterday of the Amazon. The project’s lead Karin Tuxen-Bettman took to the official Google Lat Long blog, as well, to post stunning video and images from the area—check out the video below:
Oh, and here are some introductory videos on Google Street View, Google Maps, and Google Earth:
- Google Maps for Android is MWC’s Best Consumer Mobile Service (9to5google.com)
- How to share screenshots of Google Earth explorations with your Google+ circles (9to5google.com)
- Gorgeous Street View of Russia goes live in Google Maps, enhanced search and tweaks available in Google Earth 6.2 (9to5google.com)