The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016

Draft: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2824467-Request-for-comments-suggestions-on-draft-The.html 

Discussion Thread: https://groups.gooPlease visit http://savethemap.in/ to voice your concerns before 2nd June 2016. gle.com/forum/#!msg/datameet/rmDC5ZcV58Q/S0tdertUBQAJ

The draft of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill was published on May 4, 2016. This bill controls acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution in and outside India. The bill is inviting response until June 4, 2016.

Here’s the note:

Date: 04th May, 2016 

This bill affects individuals, non-profits and businesses who use geospatial data for service delivery in India. 

Potential Partners

Add contact info, twitter handles, email ids wherever possible

Business entities using geospatial data

Twitter ids:  @Just_Dial, @Latlong, @FourthLion_IN, @Mapbox, @Olacabs, @Uber, @swiggy_in, @gramener, @zomatoIN, @nextdrop, @Housing, @mapunity, @Howindialives, @airbnb_in, @Flipkart, @redbus_in, oyorooms, @makemytrip,  @Cleartrip. @nestoria, @timescaping, @Mapzen, @cartoDB, @foursquare, @FindMeNowIN

Media entities

Twitter ids: @timesofindia, @the_hindu, @citizenmatters, @E_P_W, @htTweets, @RealRediffCom, @FactorDaily, @geoworldmedia, @IndianExpress, @dna, 

Email ids: harsha@geospatialmedia.net, sanjay@geospatialmedia.net

Nonprofit entities

Twitter ids: @aksharadotorg, @indiawater, @cis_india, @adrspeaks, @Janaagraha1, @osm_in, @CAGChennai, @OpenStreetMapIN, @akvo, @iihsin, @ushahidi, @aaranyak, @ITforChange, @fsmk_org, @DEFindia

Email ids: bharti@agiindia.com

Open Data proponents

Twitter ids: @DataPortalIndia , _DigitalIndia

More here

Data Collection Applications for Research/ Studies

Urban Planning Colleges

School Of Planning & Architecture, Delhi

School of Planning & Architecture, Bhopal

School of Planning & Architecture, Vijayawada

IIT, Kharagpur

IIT Roorkee, 

CEPT University

Guru NanakDev University, Amritsar

Amity University, Noida

and many more urban planning colleges in India which can be found here

Prominent people to write to:

Chief Town Planner, Town & Country Planning Organisation, MoUD

Commisioners of all Development Authorities in India

Members of Parliament (Since they’re voting on this): see list of Indian MPs on Twitter

VIce Chancellors/Principals of high profile universities with relevant courses

Reasons this bill is bad for Indian interests

Universities/Research Institutions

Types of use

Examples

City Corporations, Municipalities, Panchayati raj Institutions and town planners

Media, Print or Online

Types of use

Example

App Based business

Types of use

Examples

Personal Use

Types of use

Examples

Construction Industry

Types of use

Examples


  • Businesses

    Types of use

    Examples

    Disaster Management

    Types of use

    Examples

     

    NGO or NPO

    Types of use

    Examples

    What to do

    First and Foremost

    1. Attempt to understand the rationale for the policy/Act. Only when we can understand what the government is thinking can we give a balanced  proposal that solves their problems in a way that is amenable to all. In my opinion this policy is being driven a lot by the fact that anybody publishes any maps of India, especially a lot of the media.
    1. Any comments to the policy should attempt to assuage this. It needs to be brought out that not all geospatial data is the same. Hi-Resolution satellite and aerial imagery of Pathankot Air Base is not the same as navigational maps of Bangalore. Thus, the Act has to be finessed.
    1. Though I have not looked at the act in detail yet, what is missing is the set of "Rules & regulations" that will be framed. These R&Rs will decide what direction that Act will take. It is imperative that a draft set of rules be drawn up before the Act is drafted as that is where many of the definitional and operative challenges will arise.

    Ideas

    1. Come up with a very easy, jargon-free note that can be used for all the communications
    2. Come up with a response that community can be used as response
    3. Website for all the communications?
    4. Send letter to MPs also? Yes, definitely!
    5. Please add a Twitter rolling feed for the hashtag #SaveTheMap on savethemap.in
    6. Make an infographic explaining everything simply
  • Communications
    1. Website: https://github.com/datameet/savethemap.in (savethemap.in) - NEED HELP!
    2. #savethemap on Twitter
    3. Datameet blog post: http://datameet.org/2016/05/06/geospatial-information-regulation-bill-2016/
    4. Dev’s blog post: https://medium.com/@devdattat/problems-with-the-geospatial-information-regulation-bill-a19fa810983c#.sdfzgirj2
    5. Article on Medianama: http://www.medianama.com/2016/05/223-india-draft-mapping-bill/
    6. How this will affect the planning for Smart Cities: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-girb-2016-hijack-essence-smart-cities-aswani-kumar-akella
    7. Article by Dr PS Roy, Ex Dean IIRS: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/retrogressive-geospatial-policy-bill-2016-parth-sarathi-roy?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like
    8. Article on http://planningtank.com/blog/geospatial-information-regulation-bill-2016 on how this bill will effect people 
    9. Article by Pro. Arup Dasgupta, Ex.ISRO - Why Geospatial Information Regulation act needs to be dropped
    10. Article by Amitabha Bagchi, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and a member of the Data Analytics and Intelligence Research group at IIT-Delhi in The Hindu - A licence to kill innovation 
    11. View of a village panchayat employee from Kerala: https://grandalstonia.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/the-geospatial-information-regulation-bill-2016-a-terminator-to-the-scientific-spatial-planning-dreams-of-village-panchayats/

    Questions

    1) Do you have to apply for a license each time? Or just once? 

    2) Procedure of knowing the usage of GIS data usage by the government. RTI?

    3) Would it apply retrospectively? If not how would date of publication be determined? (Serious issue for implementation)

    4) What about the use of maps in academic exercises in various institutions by students? 

     

      

      1.) Seeks to regulate not only the capture and collection of raw data, but the Dissemination and distribution of any kind of value added products, i.e. visualization, maps and analyzed reports. 

      

      2.) Could have restrictions, probably of spatial resolution, and areas. (military/defense related area or high-security zones). The current bill classifies the whole of India as restricted. We should reconsider that the act should be applicable to data higher than say 0.5 m resolution.

      

      3.) The scope does not cover and cannot cover the geographic publishing of entities not under Indian Jurisdiction. Such data is available worldwide, and is therefore available unhindered via the internet. Thus the enforcement of restrictive data policy (according to the bill) actually does nothing to protect the security of the country from external agents. 

      

      4.) The core issue pertains primarily to the disputed border regions and not of India as a whole. 

      The reasonably precise boundaries of these regions are  not published or made available to the public at large. The Government of India doesn’t disseminate high-resolution boundaries itself, then is unreasonable to expect private players to have correct boundaries to use. 

      

      5.) Licensing data(even collection of lat long) which is acquired before the bill. Licensing would severely curtail startups using location-based services. This goes directly against #StartupIndia , #DigitalIndia , Smart Cities, NDSAP; 

    Loopholes

  • This will not be followed by foreigners
  • The regulation only applies to Indians or persons onboard a vehicle registered in India. It does not prevent access to sensitive imagery or data captured and distributed by companies outside India like DigitalGlobe. While Section 5 & 14 do talk about how the Use of Geospatial data of India, outside India, will also fall under the preview of this bill, it not clear, that all foreign entities will get licensed under this bill, and such entities will continue to acquire and distribute satellite and other sensitive Geospatial data without issues.    In summary the bill cannot ensure the security and sovereignty of the nation by restricting access to geospatial data by Indians alone.

  • Does not apply to the Government
  • The regulation allows the government to misuse the geospatial data of the land while at the same time restricting public access to it. 

    Does not indicate position of private contractors for government.

  • Does not narrowly define the scope of what is termed geospatial data. "Data acquired by any other means whatsoever" - II 3(1)
  • Is a photograph taken from an aircraft considered aerial imagery? Is a hand drawn digitized map considered geospatial data?

    It does not seem to include regular surveillance cameras on high rise buildings (many overlook defence and "prohibited places" which area already covered by older protection mechanisms). 

  • Legality issues overruling courts
  • -------------------

    FAQ (General)

    General resource for FAQs - Mapping of policies, guidelines, and case law: <http://cis-india.org/openness/legal-challenges-to-mapping-in-india-1-laws-policies-cases>

    Q. Who has proposed this bill?

    A: This bill has been drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 

    Q. What is the stated goal of this bill? How does it aim to achieve this?

    A: This bill seeks to ensure the security, sovereignty and integrity of India by regulating the collection and publication of geospatial information pertaining to India.

     

    Q. What exactly does the "geospatial information" mentioned in this bill refer to?

    A: The bill defines geospatial information as either “geospatial imagery or data” or “graphical or digital data” pertaining to the territory of India. This would regulate any data, visual or otherwise, acquired through any means, including satellites, UAVs, drones, balloons, cameras or any GPS enabled device, as well as the representation of this data, in the form of maps, charts and print materials that depict natural or manmade features drawn to a geographic scale. 

    Q. How does the bill seek to regulate geospatial information?

    A: The bill requires individuals as well as organisations to seek the permission of the government

    Q. Whom does this bill apply to? Whom does it not apply to?

    A: This bill applies to all citizens of India, whether located within or outside India. It also applies to foreigners in India or aboard ships or aircraft registered in India. The bill does not apply to any Indian Central and State Government agencies.

    Q: What laws and policies regulate mapping in India at present?

    A: National Map Policy and Guidelines issued by Survey of India regulate terrestrial mapping, i.e. non-aerial mapping. Remote Sensing Data Policy and Civil Aviation Rules, respectively, regulate mapping done using satellites on one hand, and planes and drones on the other. For more details, see: http://cis-india.org/openness/legal-challenges-to-mapping-in-india-1-laws-policies-cases#2.

    Q: What’s the big deal about this bill? Isn’t this bill about ensuring that foreign map providers correctly depict Indian Boundaries?

    A: While a section in the bill requires all entities to use and display correct boundaries of the country, the bill as a whole tries to regulate a lot more. It talks about licensing all entities and individuals who create, collect, analyse and distribute all kinds of geospatial data. It talks about a bureaucratic committee which will license all such entities, and will vet all such data after collection and before distributing it. This poses a serious threat to any real-time information collection, especially in cases of emergencies.

     

       

    Q. BJP MP Tarun Singh suggests that the main concern behind the bill is the mapping of India’s defence installations (such as in Pathankot) by companies such as Google. Do such acts jeopardize our national security? Won’t this bill ensure that terrorists and Foreign Players do not know about our security installations?

    A.  It is true that showing defence installations on platforms such as Google maps gives potential terrorists easier and remote access to location information. We are completely in agreement with the Ministry of Home Affairs that every effort should be made to regulate such mapping of Vital Areas (VAs)/Vital Points(VPs) in the interest of national security. 

    Unfortunately, the bill in its current form regulates much more than just this. In fact it does not mention defence installations at all, and instead clamps down on maps of all kinds, from mundane street maps to humanitarian disaster maps, from weather maps to maps that teach children geography. 

    More importantly, high resolution satellite imagery and maps of border areas will continue to be easily accessible to foreign militaries and terrorists located outside India.

    All that this bill will therefore achieve is to keep Indian Citizens and companies in the dark, and at a disadvantage when compared to International IT and geospatial industry.

    Q. Tarun Singh also suggests that the geospatial data Google collects from us on a daily basis can be used to conduct surveillance and individually monitor any of us, and that we should therefore use indigenous maps such as those developed by ISRO. Is this not a valid point?

    A. While it is true that by our increasing use of smartphones we are allowing companies like Google to track us, this is a peril of the digital age. We do not know that Google will always use our data responsibly. However, choosing indigenous maps is not the answer either, since we likewise do not know if the Government of India will be responsible with our data. We must search instead for other solutions to ensure our privacy remains protected.

    FAQ for Citizens:

    Q; How, GEOSPATIAL help to control, the internal security of india ,such as naxal?

    Q: Why should I as a citizen be concerned if I don’t work with maps myself? 

    A: When you hail an Uber/Ola by marking your location on a map, you are creating geospatial information. When you take a Geotagged image, you are creating geospatial information. When you "share your location" on WhatsApp with your friend, you’re creating creating and disseminating geospatial information. When you retweet a map or satellite image, you are distributing geospatial data. You, even as an end user of these apps and services, fall within the scope of multiple provisions of this Act (s.3, s.4), and hence need a licence under this act. Technically, the bill will make sharing your location with a third party without prior government approval illegal. In reality the Act in such cases may not be enforced, but it can be selectively used by the government to punish or control individuals and organisations as they see fit.

    Q: What is geospatial data?

    A: Geospatial data is another way to describe maps and mapping information. The bill defines geospatial information as any data, visual or otherwise, about the surface of Indian territory acquired through any means, including satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), drones, balloons, cameras or any GPS enabled device. It also includes the representation of this information, in the form of maps, charts and print materials that depict natural or man made features drawn to a geographic scale. 

    Q: Won’t this bill only force big players like Google, OpenStreetMap and Digital Globe to get Licenses?

    A: It might seem that it is only large companies such as Google and Bing Maps who collect and distribute such data, but that is incorrect. The bill is very broad and covers all uses of geospatial data by citizens and companies.

    Q: Isn’t allowing the public and private players to have this kind of data a security risk? What’s the benefit of the public having access to this kind of data?

    A: Most people, without realising it, benefit from the use of geospatial data. GeoSpatial data is used by citizens and private organizations from diverse fields and all walks of life. It is used by companies in the Transport, Logistics, Insurance, Construction, Utilities and many other fields. 

    It is used by ordinary villages to find the best place to build check dams to save water. It is used by regular fishermen to go to the place which has the best fish. It is used in emergency situations like the Chennai floods, the Uttarkhand fires, and the Nepal earthquake. It can be used for finding trapped mountaineers as well as in child and women safety trackers. 

    Citizens have a right to Information, and geospatial data is just another kind of Information.

    Q. What is the impact of this regulation on my privacy?

    A. The bill gives the government powers to ensure surveillance and monitoring of your personal data to ensure compliance with the regulations. This also allows security agencies to search and confiscate phones, computer and other personal devices if they suspect someone may have broken the regulations of the act.

    Q: How does the Geospatial information bill affect my Right to Information? 

    A: The Right to Information Act, 2005 of our nation gives us right to information. Under this act, any citizen can have access to public information in their required ’format’ (e.g. maps of areas affected due to development projects). This bill is going to place further barriers on citizens (especially RTI activists) seeking to obtain such information from government authorities, by requiring them to obtain a special license for geospatial information.

    Q: How does the bill affect individuals during emergency situations?

    A: When individuals are in emergency situations either natural or man made disaster, they often require geospatial information (e.g. locations of relief camps during the Chennai floods). This bill makes it difficult for individuals/organisations to freely generate and share such information. 

    An example for how OSM and HOTOSM is being used in current flood situation in SriLanka: http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/1915   

    Q: How will the passage of this Bill harm us? 

    A: The Central Government talks about Digital India, Startup India, as well as Smart Cities. None of these objectives can be achieved without free and easy access to geospatial Data. If a farmer cannot access Weather and Soil data for his field, what Digital India are you talking about? If a startup has to get a license and has to get each and every record vetted by a bureaucratic committee, how can it compete on the Global stage? How can you have Smart Cities without Internet of Things (IoT) sensors providing real time dynamic information of traffic, utilities, transport in our cities? Passage of this bill will bring to a halt most of modern IT Enabled Services (ITES)  as well as Location Based Services.

    Q:  I now understand that this Bill has a number of issues. What actions do we take next?

    A: The first and most important step is to reach out to the Joint Secretary (Internal Security-I), Ministry of Home Affairs via email at jsis@nic.in before June 2nd with comments and feedback. You can optionally use our email template provided above.

    Secondly, please spread awareness about this bill in your network, and ask all to send a response to this bill, explaining why this is a bad idea, and why it’s a mistake for the MHA to even consider this bill in its current state. 

    FAQ for Businesses:

    Q: What’s the Big Deal about this bill? Isn’t this bill about ensuring that foreign map providers correctly depict Indian Boundaries?

    A: This bill is not just limited to foreign map providers. All businesses that are using maps will have to go through the license and vetting process. While a section in the bill requires all entities to use and display correct boundaries of the country, the bill as a whole tries to regulate a lot more. It talks about licensing all entities and individuals who create, collect, analyse and distribute all kinds of GeoSpatial data. It talks about a bureaucratic committee which will license all such entities, and will Vet all such data after collection and before distributing it. 

    Q: Why should I as a business owner be concerned? Won’t this force just the big players like Google, and OSM and Digital Globe to get Licenses?

    A:It might seem that it is only large companies such as Google and Bing Maps who collect and distribute such data, but that is incorrect. If your startup or app asks for user location they are creating geospatial information. Your end user of the apps and services you provide, fall within the scope of multiple provisions of this Act (s.3, s.4), and hence need a licence under this act.

    Q: How will the passage of this Bill harm my business? 

    A: The Central Government talks about Digital India, Startup India, as well as Smart Cities. None of these objectives can be achieved without free and easy access to Geospatial Data.  If a startup has to get a license and has to get each and every record vetted by a bureaucratic committee, how can it compete on the Global stage? Passage of this bill will bring to a halt most of modern ITES as well as Location Based Services.

    Q: I now understand that this Bill has a number of issues. What actions do we take next?

    A: The first and most important step is to reach out to the Joint Secretary (Internal Security-I), Ministry of Home Affairs via email at jsis@nic.in before June 2nd  with comments and feedback. You can optionally use our email template provided above.  

    Secondly, please spread awareness about this bill in your network, and ask all to send a response to this bill, explaining why this is a bad idea, and why it’s a mistake for the MHA to even consider this bill in its current state.

    STM FAQ:

    FAQ

    What is STM’s stance on the draft Bill?

    STM believes this draft Bill defines "geospatial information" too widely, and is applicable on various uses of such information (including maps) all of which cannot be and should not be regulated in the same manner. STM is deeply worried that enactment of this Bill in present form can seriously effect economic opportunities in India and the ability of citizens to use maps for recreation, transactions, and information.  

    Who is running STM?

    The STM team consists of a group of volunteers. We all are concerned map users who want to see a improved, open, streamlined, and time-bound regulation of maps in India. 

    How do I join STM?

    Join the STM Slack channel, or engage with STM on Twitter.

    How do I participate in policy discussions?

    Put your comments on the hackpad: The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016

    What is the status of geospatial data now?

    The government has provisions for geospatial data. You can see a background on the issue here. http://thewire.in/2016/05/16/before-geospatial-bill-a-long-history-of-killing-the-map-in-order-to-protect-the-territory-36453/  The MHA is not in charge of geospatial data in India but the Department of Science and Technology is. who have been working on various policies. You can see a full list here. Geodata law policy etc dump: INDIA

    We need a strong and enabling geospatial policy? What other options are there?

    Department of Science and Technology is in charge of geospatial information in India and has a draft policy out you can see it here. http://www.dst.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft-NGP-Ver%201%20ammended_05May2016.pdf

    REFERENCES

    1. Policy dump for all things data / geo-related
    2. DM’s copy of GIRB bill on DocumentCloud for sharing, public annotation and comments

    National Geospatial Policy [NGP 2016]

    DST has also published a policy.  It can be seen at http://www.dst.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft-NGP-Ver%201%20ammended_05May2016.pdf

    Analysis, Impact & Questions - Geospatial Information Regulation Bill (GIRB) 2016 

    Outreach Language

    Think about your day? Do you work in a place that uses maps to solves problems? How often are you giving directions, looking for a place to eat, trying to find a meeting, booking a cab, or going to a new place? These actions require access to maps so you can move along and go about your life. This ability to look up and create your own experience with maps is in danger. 

    A proposed bill would make using the maps you need everyday much more difficult. Learn more at Savethemap.in, 

    join in the conversation at savethemap.in

    let the MHA know this is not good for Make in India at savethemap.in

    Make the MHA realize that this is coming in my patriotic duties towards helping realize - SwachBharath , MakeinIndia , Digital India, Clean Ganga initiatives and maybe illustrate how so too.

    Infographic [WIP]

    Purpose of the infographic is to inform everyone and then ask for action. Please add your feedback so we may improve and finish it.

    Can also create small share-ables for Twitter and Facebook.

    Logo Ideas

    by Gaurav Sharma and myself. Awaiting your comments to go forward and incorporate in the website and finalise the infographic, and then create share-ables.