Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Israeli City Complaint Against Google Earth

Officials of the Israeli city Kiryat Yam have filed a complaint with the police due to Google Earth, Buzzblog reports. Their request: Google should remove a bit of user-generated content placed on Kiryat Yam in Google Earth. The bit reads:

This is one of the Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. For basic information about this locality, including brief history, the 1948 events, its current status, pictures and statistics, visit:

The Kiryat Yam officials disagree with this entry, saying “the city was built by Holocaust survivors on land that was completely barren and had not been settled in the past.” Google however wants to stay away from being a judge in the dispute, arguing:

While we recognize that some may find the user generated content objectionable, we are careful to balance the integrity of an open forum with the legal requirements of local governments. It looks as though this particular user-contributed annotation does not breach our Terms and Conditions nor is it in any way illegal.

The Google Earth community layer is a place where people can tag their knowledge or opinions of a location. Their comments are clearly indicated with the ’I’ icon and this layer can easily be switched on and off.

Matthew Flaschen in the comments to Buzzblog’s post writes, “Google Earth has at least hundreds of thousands of user-generated layers, none of which are checked for accuracy” and that the case has more to do with someone “that doesn’t [know] how to read the instructions to their software.”

While this time, the object of concern is user-generated content, maps software in general is often involved in political disputes. In 2005, Google faced some protest from the Taiwan government when they were listing Taiwan as a “province of China.”

[Thanks Paul McNamara and TechForNovices!]


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