Iran to Google: Fix your map, or we'll sue

Google has removed the tag identifying the Persian Gulf from its popular mapping service, angering the Iranian government. Tehran says it will sue the search giant.

Google Map of Persian Gulf
Google via ZDNet

The Iranian government said it will sue Google after the Internet company removed the name of the Persian Gulf from its mapping service.

The body of water between Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar was left nameless after the search giant removed the tag from Google Maps.

It is not clear why Google decided to remove the name, widely referred to as the Persian Gulf, or if it was caused by a bug in the system. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

It does not explain why Google Earth keeps the name tag in place.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast warned Google could face "serious damages" if it did not return the water's name, reports the Associated Press.

Iran is culturally sensitive about the name of the Persian Gulf, which has stirred tensions between Iranians and Arabs for years. The name has been disputed since the 1960s. Some Arab states call the stretch of water the Arabian Gulf.

Both the U.K. and U.S. governments among others, including the United Nations, continue to call the water the Persian Gulf.

Tehran had previously threatened Google with legal action over removing the name. Errors in Google Maps have seen names of even highly-populated areas disappear before. In 2010, Google noted a "technical error" which left a Florida city off its map.

But Google is also proactive in changing the name of areas, places and cities for accuracy.

During the Libyan revolution, once rebel forces had reclaimed the capital city, Google was quick to accept the change of name from Green Square to "Martyrs' Square" to disassociate the name from the Gaddafi regime.

A Google spokesperson was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Iran to sue Google in map naming dispute."

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