Iran Threatens Action After Google Wipes Persian Gulf (Label) Off Map

from the under-what-law? dept

Putting together maps may seem like a simple thing, but it can often have significant consequences, especially involving national identity and nationalistic feelings. And, given the prominence of Google Maps, the company has been no stranger to controversy over some of its mapping choices. Back in 2005, Taiwanese politicians protested Google referring to the island as a province of China. Similarly, there have been complaints about Palestinian territories being labeled as a part of Israel. Of course, given the very well documented disputes about the issues in both regions, it's no surprise that the mapping choices (either way) would likely upset some. Of course, my favorite Google Maps dispute may have been when Nicaragua accidentally invaded Costa Rica and then blamed Google Maps for the mistake, which came close to creating a serious international incident.

The latest such story involves Iran threatening to sue Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf. The article goes through the details, and Google seems to dance around the subject. A spokesperson claims that not every body of water is labeled -- but as the report points out, lots of other bodies of water in the area (including many that are significantly smaller) are labelled. As the article notes, there is at least some dispute over what the body of water is called, suggesting that Google's way of dealing with the controversy this time around is to just not label it at all. Though, clearly, that doesn't seem to have helped.

Of course, what I'm wondering is just what kind of "legal action" Iran thinks it can reasonably take here. I'm sure they can go after Google in an Iranian court, but I can't see how that matters. Google is outside their jurisdiction and the "worst" case scenario is that Google gets blocked. But given Iran's widespread internet censorship, and the expectation that it's about to expand greatly, it's not clear that even that would be a big change. If Iran were to sue somewhere else, what would be the basis? Not liking how a map is labeled doesn't automatically make it illegal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 7:40am

    Not sure why the govt cares when they want to roll out a national internet and restrict access to the WWW anyway.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 8:28am

    State's Rights

    "Not liking how a map is labeled doesn't automatically make it illegal."
    One could argue that it does. Most governments/regimes/mafia/cartels/etc work on exactly that principle: "We don't like that, don't do that or we'll use our self-declared monopoly on force to hurt you."

    Seeing as Iran is in the group of "governments/regimes/mafia/cartels/etc" they feel completely within their rights to threaten violence (or some authority ultimately derived from violence) for somebody doing something which they do not like.

    Thus, it could be argued that anything disliked by a State is illegal.

     

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      Valis (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:33am

      Re: State's Rights

      Iran may threaten violence, but the US commits it. Who is more evil?

       

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        identicon
        Mason Wheeler, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re: State's Rights

        In Iran, you would be "disappeared" for making a comment like that. In the US, you're free to. Who is more evil?

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:16am

          Re: Re: Re: State's Rights

          How do you know? What is your source for this belief, and can you trust it? Seems a bit far fetched.

           

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        identicon
        Greg G, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: State's Rights

        Really?

        I guess you never heard of/forgot about/choose to ignore the Iran Hostage crisis.

         

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          monkyyy, May 18th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: State's Rights

          I guess you never heard of/forgot about/choose to ignore those 12 or so drone strikes?

          honesty deciding which government is more evil so a hard one, why cant we all just agree that they are all unimaginably evil

           

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      btr1701 (profile), May 19th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

      Re: State's Rights

      > > "Not liking how a map is labeled doesn't automatically
      > > make it illegal."

      > Thus, it could be argued that anything disliked by a
      > State is illegal.

      The point is that the only place it's illegal is *in* that State, in this case, Iran. So yeah, they could hold a trial in Iran and Google could be convicted, but since Google isn't actually there, the most they can do is block Google, which they're probably doing already anyway, so why should Google care?

      And if they tried to sue anywhere else, then they'd have to face the fact that it's *not* illegal in those jurisdictions and they'd lose their case immediately.

       

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    Glen, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    What are they gonna do?

    Cut off the hands of the those that maintain Google Maps? What recourse to they have in Sharia Law?

     

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    Richard, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Google should label it "Arabian Gulf". Now that'd really honk off Iran.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    They could've labelled it "Caution: wet floor".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Not sure why the govt cares when they want to roll out a national internet and restrict access to the WWW anyway.

    No, with all their illegal domain seizures and illegal shut-downs and other evil practices, they're just eliminating anything that does not favor American fascists' financial interests (which have nothing to do with American citizens' interests).

    Oh, you didn't mean the American government? Well, other governments just want to copy the America fascist ways and tailor them to their own evil purposes. You're in favor of copying, right?

    Look up the history of that great American invention the atomic bomb (which only America has been evil enough to use to kill masses of innocent civilians) for prior art.

     

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      Valis (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      Thank you, thank you and thank you, for calling out the hypocrisy of the Americans.

       

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      Berenerd (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      " American invention the atomic bomb "

      Actually...the team of scientists that developed it in the Manhatten Project were American, Canadian, and the Brits, but lets not split hairs here...Yes the US used the bomb, many people regret that here in the US and have made great strides to have them removed however someone will always have one and I am willing to bet the next one used will not be by the US. Don't like the US? Fine, want to bash the US? Fine. If the US were to stop supporting the rest of the world I am willing to bed out debt issues here in the US would be lesser and the rest of the world would be screwed.

      On that, I would like to state, lets not bash the people because someone crapped in your cheerios. Bash the person who didn't make it to the toilet. KTHXBYE

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re:

        Check out the time lapse video of all nuclear tests...

        Ze Germans inventing da bomb too... we were trying, and the Russians. Who stole what info from whom and where did all the German scientist, propagandists and intelligence agents end up after the war? The Russians got the rockets and we dropped the A's.

        The U.S. is still a noble idea, albeit infected like a computer can be. Regardless of the inputs at this point, you cannot be sure you will get the appropriate / desired results without first a complete rebuild around the core.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

        Re: Re:

        hmm, Albert einstien was german

         

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

        Re: Re:

        hmm, Albert einstien was german

         

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        identicon
        Joe, May 19th, 2012 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re:

        And the German who helped make the rockets that made them much more effective... Like 100x times as much. What was his name again? Doc Brown or something like that? ;)

        But on the actual project to make the prototypes, the Germans were still working overseas on the rival atomic energy projects.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 11:36am

      Re:

      The atomic bomb was not a US invention. The 12 people accredited the discovery is international and if anyone has to get the "honour" it would be Germany and/or Hungary. America was, however, the first nation to use it after their spies brought the knowledge.

       

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        identicon
        Joe, May 19th, 2012 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re:

        Strange. Generally, when you use US materials, US labs, US money, US military, on US land, to make something tested first in the US, it generally is considered to be invented in the USA. Rather half the people involved are native or not is besides the point.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2012 @ 8:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Are we playing the "WTC was international! No, it was a uniquely American tragedy!" game again? Because really, is it so hard to acknowledge all the facts and get over the labels? We don't need to stick a "Made in America" sign on the damn thing. In fact, I'd rather we didn't.

          International competition has proved an excuse for a lot of countries to do a lot of stupid, horrible things on the justification that if they don't, the next guy will, and it'll be worse.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Ha Ha

      You will get no sympathy from me about the use of the bombs on Japan. Both my father, Army, and my step father, USMC, were being readied to invade Japan.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    problem solved

    what middle east , try googling it....

     

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    Berenerd (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:53am

    To quote the movie "Black Sheep"

    David Spade: But its not on the map here....

    Gas Station Attendant: Well, get yourself a new map...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    "If Iran were to sue somewhere else, what would be the basis?"

    Again history provides the answer...

    Obviously, the only court with the proper history of inventive interpretations of venue and actual law while still having the fortitude to take on this type of important issue is...

    United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:28am

    If I were Google, I would remove "Iran" from the map too...

     

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    PatM (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    I would take that case for Iran. That is extreme prejudice on Googles' part. If they are going to map the world, Iran, however ignorant they may seem to appear in the media, is part of it, and so is the Persian Gulf. Imagine a map without Russia, China or the USA on it. For years I believe Google has been the USA's patsy. Seriously, why would Google go into other countries and collect data not related to mapping. Even thou they got caught for it they still did it. Google has a bad reputation around the globe. Many call them copyright thieves. Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot, innovators, fair use''rs, would be more appropriate in this forum. (innovators are people who help to open up a NEW line of research or technology or art not steal other peoples claiming 'fair use')

     

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      BeeAitch (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      I hear the dollar store is having a sale on aluminum foil, better get there before they're sold out.

      Oh, and infringement isn't theft.

       

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      btr1701 (profile), May 19th, 2012 @ 11:47pm

      Re:

      > I would take that case for Iran.

      Great, so lay out an accounting of the legal liability for Google for not putting a label on a body of water. Cite case law precedent, code, or statute. Be specific.

      > Imagine a map without Russia, China or the USA on it.

      Easy. Just look at the pictures of Earth taken from the moon. No labels at all. Imagine that.

       

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        Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2012 @ 6:08am

        Re: Re:

        I'm pretty sure a picture from over the South Pole would count too. Actually, pretty much any map that doesn't involve those three countries on it would count. So my map of the UK has to have the US, China or Russia on it to be a valid map? :)

         

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    The perfect lawyers for the case

    The RIAA or MPAA must have loaned Iran some lawyers somewhere along the way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    The dispute you mention is centuries old. Is it the Arabic Gulf or Persian Gulf? Most map makers of maps for the region simply label it by the name all oil workers know it as The Gulf neither Arabic or Persian avoiding the physical conformation jihad all together.

     

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Google mislabels and fails to label stuff all the time. In other news, the government of Iran is also still stupid.

     

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    a Human, May 21st, 2012 @ 12:12am

    any Compant couldnt stablish confidence same google

     

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    Foolevil, May 21st, 2012 @ 9:02am

    persian gulf / arabian gulf

    Very Googlean solution will be a button:
    name this area way you like and pay 0.0001 USD, or use way its in default....

     

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    lrobbo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:50am

    Iran should block the evil monster that is Google and opt for the honest and simple duckduckgo.com ;p

     

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