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.

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Comments on “Iran Threatens Action After Google Wipes Persian Gulf (Label) Off Map”

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

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.

btr1701 (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: 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

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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

PatM (profile) says:

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’)

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: 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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