Google's Street View project in India has bumped into problems. Merely, after three weeks, it began driving in the Bangalore, the city police commissioner notified Google that it must stop photographing the city until a number of issues can be resolved.
A Google Spokesperson confirmed the news to Media Nama, stating that: "We can confirm that we received a letter from the Commissioner of Police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the Police have."
Howerve, Google told the publication it had obtained police permission before commencing Street View photography. The legal questions raised by the Bangalore police revolve around the legality of "foreigners or foreign firms" doing extensive photography on the scale of Street View in India.
A related issue involves the designation of Street View as a form of "new media," which apparently implicates foreign investment rules in Indian media. Google therefore might need an Indian joint-venture partner to carry out Street View in the country.
An an anonymous tip-off revealed: "google street view has been stopped by bangalore police as policy on foreign companies to collect such data is not present . At present there are several restrictions on foreigners to collect photgraphs and there is also a foreign direct investment policy ( FDI policy ) on investments and participation by foreign comanpanies in Indian media . This form of new media collection needs policy clearance for foreign companies . Also the controversial and often adversorial approach by google and google earth is not finding favour in Indian adminstration."
The roadblocks in India are just the latest in a long string of legal and political challenges to Street View. Google has had its share of negative PR and legal headaches in multiple countries in Europe, South Korea and now India.
We had asked Google some questions on permissions and data collections at the time of the Street View launch. Read their responses here. The company had said then that it had taken a formal approval from the traffic department of the Bangalore Police for Google Street View.