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India rejects Google Street View over security concerns

The 360-degree mapping service, currently unavailable in the subcontinent, was reportedly rejected by the Indian government after a terror attack on a military base.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google's Street View service, which uses 360-degree cameras on cars, tricycles, boats and more to provide high-quality panoramic views of streets across the world, has hit a roadblock in India.

The country's Home Ministry has rejected Google's plan to collect images around India, citing security implications, The Hindu reports. The government is concerned that Google's service can disclose sensitive defence installations. Furthermore, it says its inability to monitor Google's service once it is green-lit as "detrimental to national security."

The report claims that Google's proposal was rejected by the Indian government in February after a terror attack at the Pathankot Air Force Station. Seven people, including three security forces personnel, were killed in the gun battle. Investigators believe that terrorists used Google's mapping service to locate the airbase.

As of today, Street View can be used in India to explore select monuments. Users can experience 360-degree panoramas of wonders such as the Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb, the Red Fort and the Gateway of India, but coverage of regular streets -- as you find in most western countries -- remains unavailable.

The feature would be another selling point for Google's suite of services in India, where internet-related markets are growing rapidly. Other tech juggernauts, such as Apple and Amazon, are also looking at expanding their businesses in the country.

It appears Google has already requested that the local government reassess the matter. According to a separate report, the Indian government says it will reconsider Google's request for Street View access after its 2016 Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is cleared by parliament.

"All such issues will be sorted out after the bill comes into being," Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for home affairs told the Hindustan Times. The bill's draft states that it will be mandatory to get permission from a government authority before "acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution" of geospatial information in India.

This is not the first time Street View has ignited controversy. Since its limited launch in India in 2011, the navigation service has caused many to worry about privacy and security. The same year, city police in the Indian IT hub of Bangalore had ordered Google to suspend Street View. In 2013, Survey of India had filed a complaint against Google with Delhi police for hosting its Mapathon content.