Google dis­ap­pointed by South Korean re­fusal on map­ping data

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SEOUL: South Korea re­jected a re­quest by Google to use lo­cal map­ping data in the com­pany’s global maps ser­vice in a long-awaited rul­ing Fri­day that had di­vided the coun­try for months.

The com­pany said it was dis­ap­pointed by the de­ci­sion, which the land min­istry said was based on con­cerns over na­tional se­cu­rity.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed by this de­ci­sion. We’ve al­ways taken se­cu­rity con­cerns very se­ri­ously and will con­tinue to pro­vide use­ful map ser­vices in com­pli­ance with Korea’s cur­rent map data ex­port reg­u­la­tion,” Taj Mead­ows, a Google spokesper­son, said in a state­ment.

The South Korean gov­ern­ment said the risks out­weighed ben­e­fits from ex­port­ing the coun­try’s map­ping data to Google, a unit of Al­pha­bet Inc.

South Korea, fac­ing the overt threat of ri­val North Korea, bars ex­port­ing lo­cal map­ping data to for­eign com­pa­nies that do not op­er­ate do­mes­tic data servers.

Google, a unit of Al­pha­bet Inc., han­dles its maps ser­vice at data cen­ters out­side South Korea. The re­stric­tions have lim­ited the use­ful­ness of Google Maps within South Korea, since the app can­not of­fer driv­ing or walk­ing direc­tions.

The gov­ern­ment had pro­posed grant­ing per­mis­sion to Google to use lo­cal map­ping data for Google Maps if the com­pany would blur sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion on South Korean mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties on its satel­lite map.

“Our po­si­tion from the start was that if it deletes se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties, we would al­low ex­port­ing (the lo­cal map­ping data),” said Kim Tong-il, an of­fi­cial at the land min­istry. “Google’s po­si­tion is that it won’t delete those. The ques­tion was whether we would al­low that re­gard­less.”

South Korea has been di­vided over the is­sue since Google filed its re­quest in June. The gov­ern­ment ex­tended an Au­gust dead­line to this month, high­light­ing dis­agree­ments be­tween gov­ern­ment min­istries.

The long-time de­lib­er­a­tion re­flects grow­ing sup­port for Google within some gov­ern­ment min­istries that are try­ing to pro­mote tourism and lo­cal firms’ over­seas busi­nesses. One of the big­gest in­con­ve­niences that for­eign tourists run into in South Korea, which has some of the fastest and cheap­est in­ter­net ac­cess in the world, is the lack of an on­line map­ping ser­vice with nav­i­ga­tion and direc­tions in for­eign lan­guages.

Some lo­cal busi­nesses and con­sumers op­posed giv­ing Google full ac­cess to the lo­cal map­ping data, say­ing it would be un­fair to lo­cal com­pa­nies that op­er­ate lo­cal data servers to sup­port their map ser­vices. They said Google should build data cen­ters in South Korea in­stead of seek­ing an ex­emp­tion from the rules.

Google said ear­lier that re­strict­ing Google Maps in South Korea would be an in­con­ve­nience for for­eign­ers vis­it­ing the host coun­try of the Pyeong Chang Win­ter Olympics in 2018.

It also ar­gued that re­stric­tions on ex­port­ing the lo­cal map­ping data could hin­der ef­forts of com­pa­nies to roll out global ser­vices us­ing lo­ca­tions data and will de­prive lo­cal con­sumers of cut­ting edge ser­vices.

SUWON: Choe By­ong-Nam, a di­rec­tor gen­eral of South Korea’s Na­tional Ge­o­graphic In­for­ma­tion In­sti­tute, speaks af­ter a meet­ing at the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic In­for­ma­tion In­sti­tute in Suwon, South Korea, yes­ter­day. South Korea has re­jected Google’s re­quest to use lo­cal map­ping data in the com­pany’s global maps ser­vice in a highly-awaited de­lib­er­a­tion that di­vided the coun­try for months. — AP

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