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Centre moots registry to vet geospatial data (Relevant for GS Prelims, Mains Paper II and III)

National Data Registry
The government is developing a national data registry (NDR) that will require all agencies— state, private and academic — that collect and store geospatial data to provide details of the data they store.

Significance of National Data Registry
Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the nodal coordinating agency, said the purpose of such a registry was to create a “catalogue” that would “prevent duplication” of data sets and to help users locate the right agencies to source information.

The registry will be a ‘meta-data’ repository: it will not actually be a source of geospatial data but will only inform about the nature of the data a service provider has. Thus, everyone from restaurant-location-services providers to hospital-location aggregators will have to comply with the directive, and the government may consider bringing in legislation.

Background
The Ministry of Home Affairs on May 4, 2016 released a draft of “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016.”

According to the draft, it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.
Even though the Bill is only in the draft stage and has been opened up for suggestions, it is important to understand its salient features:

What does “geospatial information” mean?
According to the draft it means:
– Geospatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles
– Graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth
– Any information related thereto including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to a co-ordinate system and having attributes;

What does the Bill say?
In simple terms, any addition or creation of anything that has to do with any geospatial information – or location – within the territory of India will need the permission of the government or, in this case, a Security Vetting Authority.

What does Security Vetting Authority do?
It grants licenses to organisations/individuals who want to use geospatial data. It will check the content and data provided and make sure it is well within national policies, “with the sole objective of protecting national security, sovereignty, safety and integrity”

Who will this impact?
Every person, every business which uses location as a major feature to function. Apart from the usual Google, this includes other apps like Ola, Uber, Zomato, AirBnB and Oyo. It also includes Twitter and Facebook which can track your location.

Penalties of violating the law
Illegal acquisition of geospatial information or wrong depiction of India – Fine ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.
Illegal dissemination, publication or distribution of geospatial information of India – Whoever disseminates, publishes or distribute sany geospatial information of India in contravention of section 4, shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.

Use of geospatial information of India outside India would lead to Fine ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.



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