Can Google take out South Korean map data oversea?

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Global Map with background decorated in binary code 0 and 1 [image: Pixabay]
This is my first english news article. It’s about global online map service in South Korea and Google’s move on that with a critical issue.

Can Google take out South Korean map data oversea?
by Mincheol Im

Google wants to take out the South Korean government-supplied map data oversea, for serving their Google Maps. They ask the government for permission to use the data outside in South Korean territory. Google and some people argue the exporting of the data is needed for public interest and benefit of people and businesses in South Korea. The government and some other people oppose the exporting of the data, since they believe it related to sensitive things like public safety and national security. The government need to make a decision whether they give Google the permission or not in two months, on November.

In June, Google asked the National Geographic Information Institute(NGII), a subsidiary of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport(MOLIT), for the permission to use South Korean map data into their global data centers in several coutries, except South Korea.

“It’s possible to give Google the permission to use the map data oversea, if they will be blurring our sensitive and military facilities on the aerial photograph and satellite map images they already use,” said Seungwon Shin, a member of Geospatial Imagery and Photogrammetry Department, NGII. “but if not, by comparing Google’s the uncensored images to our map data that already blurred, the sensitive points of us would be discovered easily.”

However, Lois Kim, the Google’s spokesperson, said her company can’t match their digital map service to each of all countries’ policy. “Google is saving data in serveral locations for security and stability as other internet company. The Google Maps is global service. Its hosting another version only for South Korea isn’t simple, will not perform well, and could be impossible to provide new global features to South Korean users,” she emphasized.

“Google is distorting the facts by arguing the startups in South Korea can’t go global market since exporting the data is prohibited,” said Yeongchan Yoon, the vice president at Naver, the No.1 local competitor of Google, at the discussion meeting on this issue in last month. “South Korean companies are going and positioning well in market oversea,” He added.

But some mobile app or web service developer in South Korea think the government should give Google the permission to use local map data. They believe it makes them feasible to go global market by taking interoperatibility into their service or product. The millenials in South Korea think so, too. These young and tech-savvy people hope by giving Google the permission they get more choice for convenient, useful, interesting content or service.

The controversy is running. According to the recent survey from The Korea Press Foundation(KPF), 41.9% of people agree that exporting the data oversea and its most reason was “prohibiting is meaningless since there are already other map data so much covered South Korea territory.” And 44.8% of people disagree that exporting and its most reason was “concerning on national security related to the situation of devided nation, South and North Korea.”

When someone asks for permission to use map data in oversea, the government must decide to give the permission or not in 60 days, by the law. However, in August, the government extended the period of discussion for decision in another 60 days, until November. It seems the government acknowledges that the decision will affect every people that operating business, making content, and developing service in local with the data.

This was written last September. And South Korean government will make a decision whether give or not the map data Google in just two days. If you have any question on this issue, please contact me by email.

Migrated on April 2nd, 2017.