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Korea to not allow Google to use maps unless sensitive areas blurred out

South Korea will not give Google a license to use South Korean maps unless the company blurs out sensitive military installations on its mapping service, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the United States search engine provider requested permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to access South Korea-supplied maps as part of efforts to upgrade its Google Maps service on South Korea. 

(Google Map)
(Google Map)

It was Google's second attempt to gain access to South Korean maps following its first unsuccessful trial in 2010.

"Because of (security) concerns, security-related ministries are insisting that (a license) would be possible only after proper measures are taken," Han told the parliamentary committee on defense affairs, indicating key military facilities should be blurred out first before Google is allowed to use South Korean maps.

"The defense ministry maintains that (South Korea's) particular security conditions should be taken into (account) when allowing local maps to be used by Google (Maps)," Han said. "We should be careful about uploading maps that include information on military security installations, especially since what they are requesting is South Korean-made maps."

Han's comment indicated Seoul may turn down Google's latest request again.

The transport ministry's National Geographic Information Institute will convene a consultative body of the defense and ICT ministries, the national intelligence agency and other related government bodies to deliver a decision within 60 days upon the request being made in accordance with local regulations.

Asked on the matter, an ICT ministry official told lawmakers that "There is an opinion gap among government bodies and discussion is under way."

South Korea is cautious about releasing map information especially on key military facilities and infrastructure as the country remains technically at war with North Korea. (Yonhap)



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