Because of the conflict South Korea experiences with its northern counterpart, Google is not allowed to export digital map data from the country. This Ultimately blocks the U.S. giant from expanding the digital local maps services in South Korea.
However, this is not Google’s first rodeo when it comes to persuading the South Korean government to update the digital local maps services. For eight years straight, Google seeks approval to store digital maps data on its foreign servers. The update Google wishes to implement consists of a full range of different mapping services, such as traffic updates and 3-D maps. The refusal makes South Korea a global outlier. Today, people in the country use outdated digital local maps from as far back as 2008.
South Korea’s Stance on Digital Local Maps Update
Seoul officials utterly refuse the Google’s request. Mainly because the export of digital local maps data could compromise South Korea’s security against North Korea. They believe that a data leak in digital location services would give North Korea an edge over their military force and other important facilities.
As of Friday, South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport rejected the Google’s request to update the digital local maps. The reason is that the data export could aggravate the already sensitive security issues with North Korea.
It was a unanimous decision by eight government entities and South Korea’s trade ministry, national intelligence division, and affairs ministry. Another reason for dismissing Google’s request is that the later had not accepted the government terms. However, South Korea is open to reconsidering, if Google changes the satellites’ position.
Hence, the government asks the California-based company to blur out sensitive areas such as power plants and military installations. Even more so, as long as other digital local maps providers comply with the government’s requests.
“We are disappointed by this decision”, says Taj Meadows, Google spokesman. “We have always taken security concerns very seriously”, he adds. Even though South Korea is not a big market for Google, it in one of utmost importance.
Mainly because the user rate for internet-connected devices is as high as 98 percent. According to the research company Kantar TNS, this is one of the highest in the world.
How Does the Government Decision Affect the Country in the Future
Google’s decision to update South Korea’s digital local maps is also about the next generation of technology. Self-cars make for the best examples that require up to date mapping services in order to operate effectively.
“They are looking to the next generation of technology such as self-driving cars and location-based advertising, which all depend on having proper map data”, says Son Young-taek, head of the Korean Association of Spatial Information, Surveying, and Mapping.
The refusal weighs even heavier, since Google’s domestic internet rival, Naver Corp. owns 70% of the market. However, people in South Korea use both digital local maps services on a daily basis. Hence, Lee Sung-bin, a Kyobo Securities analyst does not think that many would simply stop using Google Maps all of a sudden.
“South Koreans don’t really complain about Google Maps services in the country”, says Lee Sung-bin.
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