from the controversy-follows-Google-around dept
A few years back, there was a bit of a controversy after Taiwanese officials got upset with Google for including Taiwan as a part of China in its Google Maps offering. When it comes to disputed maps and sovereignty, it’s no surprise that the map makers are drawn into regional conflicts on which they wish they could remain neutral. Now that Google is increasingly allowing user generated content to appear on Google Earth and Google Maps, things get even more confusing. In fact, reader Jason writes in to let us know of a brewing controversy, where a town in Israel is suing Google over a note placed on Google Earth by a user, suggesting that the town itself was built on the ruins of a Palestinian town, whose residents were forced out. The people in the town deny this, and say that the land was barren and uninhabited when they arrived and built the town following World War II.
No matter what your opinion on the history of the land, it’s difficult to see how Google is liable. The person who created the note is easily identified. In fact, the AP reporter spoke to him, and he noted that he would gladly change the note on Google Earth if presented with more evidence that the Palestinian town was actually located elsewhere. Either way, it’s hard to see how anyone really benefits from this particular argument or lawsuit. Google merely provided the platform, and arguing (and suing) about what town existed where at what point hardly seems like a productive path for anyone. Still, don’t be surprised to see other complaints lodged against Google for content found on Google Earth. People tend to take things like maps pretty seriously, which is why there are occasional wars over how those lines are drawn. By opening up the possibility of “virtually” drawing lines however people want, Google is opening the door to quite a bit of animosity within certain disputed regions. One would hope that people would recognize there are more productive issues to focus on — but that seems unlikely.
Filed Under: google earth, israel, online maps, palestine, user generated content