So the story of the arrested Indian Nokia map collectors we reported on a couple of days ago has started to gain some spread. Reported on EarthIsSquare Blog, SlashGeo ,with most of the discussion on Slashdot.
Still no response to my email to the press offices at Nokia.
I also sent an email with some questions to the guys in Biond. No response here too.
Am I the only one that thinks that a very large multi-national organisation should take some responsibility, or at least make a statement? They’ve been locked up for about two weeks now.
UPDATE: see the comments below this post for clarifications from Milind Dalvi.
All the work is being exclusively done for Nokia subsidiary Navteq
Survey team had carried with them a digital camera in their personal capacity and was used to capture photographs of themselves, places visited etc., like any other tourist would. Please note that this was not a part of their work and was done as a hobby / tourist activity. Amongst all the photos and video clips taken, there were a few that the Gujarat police found objectionable in light of the atmosphere prevailing after the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks.
So, we mocked the UK government when they said that mappers were terrorists, but as Geocarta writes, two people in India, making a map with their GPS device have been arrested for this “reason”! Apparently they were working for the GI company Biond Software, collecting data for Nokia (and Navteq?). As of writing this post, the pair will be in day 7 in police custody.
Biond Softwares director Milind Dalvi, who came here and met the ATS officials, explained: ‘We have been commissioned by Nokia Navigator to do survey of major roads, terrain mapping and tourists destinations in the country using a GPS system. (source)
Citizens alerted the authorities after seeing the GPS devices on the cars. Then, after being arrested, they were futher doomed after the police saw that they were taking pictures of gates and walls, especially around an airport which has an army base next door.
From the India Times:
A police official told TOI that more than the data, the agency is interested in knowing to what end is the data used. “A detailed map can show strategic locations or disclose sensitive information, it can be used by terrorists or people with malafide interests. Thus, we are going through the maps and also questioning them about their clients,” said the official.
More info from India Times
I’ve asked Nokia International for comment, but have yet to hear anything.
Edits: Nokia India’s press office email at firstname.lastname@example.org is not working (user unknown error)!