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Indian GPS Cartographers Charged As Terrorists

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the well-lookie-here dept.

Government 269

chrb writes "Following on from the discussion about Apple disabling GPS in Egyptian iPhones, we have a new case of the conflict between the traditional secrecy of government, and the widening availability of cheap, accurate GPS devices around the world. On 5th December, two software engineers employed by Biond Software in India were arrested for mapping highways using vehicle based GPS devices. Further evidence against the pair emerged when it was found that a laptop they had been using in the car contained some photos of the local airforce base. The company claims they had been commissioned by Nokia Navigator to create maps of local roads and terrain. Following an investigation by the Anti Terrorist Squad of Gujarat the cartographers have now been charged with violating the Official Secrets Act and will remain in custody."

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Crazy Indians? (-1, Troll)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165233)

Why are the Native Americans trying to map out everything anyway. The white man has done all of the work already. Are they too good to use a Garmin?

Re:Crazy Indians? (5, Funny)

Teresita (982888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165277)

The most dangerous thing in the world is a second lieutenant with a map and a compass.

Re:Crazy Indians? (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165511)

My buddy served time in Iraq right around the same time Jessica Lynch's unit was attacked. Though the Wikipedia explanation is:

The convoy was supposed to detour around the town and instead turned directly into it, eventually running into an ambush. The ambush was unlikely to have been set up in advance, because the Iraqis did not know which course the convoy would take. The navigational error has never been properly explained, because the soldiers had GPS receivers and maps

My buddy revealed that it was common knowledge in the sandbox that the Officer in charge of the convoy, Capt. Troy Kent King, was the one who was responsible for making the wrong turns. According to google searches, the report is classified Secret and so the official cause is still "unknown".

So that's what happens when LT's with a map and compass go on to become captains.

Re:Crazy Indians? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166051)

(I'd like to mention parenthetically that my buddy's MOS was 88M(motor-t, essentialy truck driver) and his convoy was next in line from Lynch's when her's was attacked. Fortunately, his convoy did not make a wrong turn and their trip was incident-free)

Re:Crazy Indians? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166345)

My buddy served time in Iraq right around the same time Jessica Lynch's unit was attacked.

Whose unit? Your buddy served around the time the imaginary unit of an imaginary soldier suffered an imaginary attack? When as this?

Re:Crazy Indians? (2)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165589)

My Dad has been saying that for decades. Where's it from?

Re:Crazy Indians? (5, Interesting)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166745)

Old military lore.

Fresh officers (boots, butterbars, third-butter-cutter, all sorts of names for them) out of officer school are all hot to show their Stuff. Typically, within weeks of commissioning they were given a platoon of men to lead. As the head cheese, it is their responsibility to get the platoon where it needs to go.

These guys are around 22 years old. In this platoon, you are sure to have one old salt, and a couple on their way. The unwritten rule is to make sure the butterbar has adult supervision in the form of a senior non-com. This senior non-com goes out of his way _not_ to make decisions. So, you will hear plenty of stories about how a platoon gets hopelessly lost while the non-coms who could have 'prevented' the tragedy do nothing. The officers learn from their mistakes with the benefit of senior non-coms as training wheels.

In modern times, the officers go through some OJT as an exec. or something in addition to the more extensive field training currently in the system.

Re:Crazy Indians? (5, Funny)

jackalope (99754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165653)

Actually I know of two things more dangerous:

1) A programmer with a screwdriver
2) A salesman with an install disc

Re:Crazy Indians? (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166119)

Therefore we can deduce that a salesman with a screwdriver would be truly terrifying.

Re:Crazy Indians? (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166875)

Wrong.

The most dangerous thing in the world is a second lieutenant.

Well (1, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165239)

At least it isnt Guantanamo..

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165337)

You're kidding, right? I realize that Guantanamo isn't a resort, but I'd feel much safer there than in an Indian jail. Especially with the spot-light shining on it so brightly.

Of course, this pair has only gone 3 days being held without an official charge...

Re:Well (3, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165405)

Oops. I actually read the first linked article and jumped the gun (at that point they'd been held 3 days and not charged). TFS clearly indicates that they're facing charges for photographing the Air Force base.

Of course, you can be detained for doing that in the US too. Not sure what exactly they charge you with.

Re:Well (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165585)

Of course, you can be detained for doing that in the US too. Not sure what exactly they charge you with.

Really? I wonder what happened to the Google employees who took these photos [google.com] ?

Re:Well (4, Funny)

Warll (1211492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166141)

Well isn't it obvious? He followed Google Map's road lay out and drove right into the fence.

Re:Well (0, Flamebait)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166741)

Clearly taking photos of the dumpster whore [google.com] ^ is an issue effecting our national security.

I for one am outraged.

Re:Well (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165767)

I realize that Guantanamo isn't a resort, but I'd feel much safer there than in an Indian jail.

You're kidding, right? This is the place that keeps prisoners hooded and shackled even AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN RELEASED.

Re:Well (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166543)

Make sense if you are going to post. Geez.

Wat? (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165241)

Why is this article title red?

Re:Wat? (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165273)

I think those are "brand new" articles (without comments?). But I have seen it only once..

Re:Wat? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165379)

A red headline usually means this article has been approved for the front page but hasn't reached the front page yet. You should only see them if you're a subscriber.

In the early days of the Firehose, non-subscribers could see such red-headlined articles before they hit the front page.

Re:Wat? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165941)

Why is this article title red?

*Sigh* This question keeps getting asked, so I feel duty-bound to inform you of the true answer.

It's a test of your sexuality; only people who enjoy performing sexual acts with four-legged mammals of various equine species see it as red- it looks green to the rest of us.

There- now I don't expect to see anyone asking that question again. :)

P.S. If there's anyone out there who sees it as purple with yellow stripes, please contact me *immediately*.

Re:Wat? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166385)

I saw it yellow with purple polka dots...
Am I ok?

Charged As Terrorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165253)

Ah another misleading /. headline. Being charged under the Official Secrets Act is not being charged under anti-terrorism laws.

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (5, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165303)

GPS information is an official secret?

"Where am I?"
"You have no right to know that."

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (2, Informative)

DougF (1117261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165417)

GPS information is an official secret?

No, but certain locations, aircraft configurations, and equipment ARE secret and videos/pictures of them when supposedly out collecting GPS info is grounds for interrogation and subsequent charges under the Official Secrets Act.

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (3, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165715)

So, in order to keep the air force base data out of the GPS system wouldn't they need to know where it was?

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (5, Funny)

matrim99 (123693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166077)

Actually, to stay out of trouble, they'd be safer knowing every location that it is NOT at, and extrapolating from there.

Tongue, cheek, and all that.

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166657)

So, in order to keep the air force base data out of the GPS system wouldn't they need to know where it was?

For some reason this reminds me of telemarketers' Do Not Call list.

Or the "opt out" link on spam, whereby one can click to say, "Yes, I'm here and I read my spam, so please stop sending it."

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165837)

Yes, you must not look and register any airforce base. Please use Google for that detail.

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166091)

Ironically, this makes the job a lot easier for the opposition. All the Pakis have to do is aim their missiles at the black/blank/low-res squares on the sattelite maps. That way they're bound to hit something they're not supposed to know about if a conflict ever occurs.

Actually, the smarter thing is to show some limited detail of the base (but not to the point where the resolution drop is noticable) but not allow any timely release of information. That is, you can show the base - but whatever data is released must be more than a month old. That way the data is mostly useless from an intelligence perspective.

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165439)

In Soviet Russia Putin authorized open access to the civilian navigation signals of the GLONASS system, to Russian and foreign consumers, free of charge and without limitations. That's an astonishing thing, considering the remarkable coverage provided by the system [wikipedia.org] , but I suppose they don't have those Capitalist animal spirits yet!

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1)

sdpuppy (898535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165449)

"Where am I?" "You have no right to know that."

"you are here!"
knock knock.. uh oh

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165513)

GPS information is an official secret?

"Where am I?"
"You have no right to know that."

Sweet, I smell money in turning a magic 8 ball into an India and Egypt compatible GPS:

1. Ask where you are
2. Shake the 'GPS'
3. Get presented with answers such as "You are here", "You aren't there", "You are on Earth", "You are lost", "Ask again later", "Use a Map"

Though in some cases this may still be too much information for local authorities ;)

Re:Charged As Terrorists? (1)

Strep (956749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166423)

WTF??? GPS data linked to roads is an Official Secret? Frickin' Indian Govt... trying to one-up the aussies ... who are trying to one-up the Mehrikans.

Cosmic Rays Do Not Explain glowbull warmongering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165295)

no, that terrorism is caused by greed, fear & ego run amok. better days ahead.

With a name like "The Official Secrets Act" (5, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165299)

"You are in violation of the Official Secrets Act, you are under arrest."

"The official secrets act? What's that?"

"An official secret. Now put your hands behind your back. You have the right to remain ignorant of your crimes. You have the right to a low quality attorney. And you have the right to not ask any more stupid questions..."

Re:With a name like "The Official Secrets Act" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165523)

"You are in violation of the Official Secrets Act, you are under arrest."

Correction: That's the Official Secrets Act of 1923.

From TFA, here's what got led to the charges:

The laptop contained Army personnel marching at Wagah border, video recording of a bus headed from India to Lahore, clipping of Jamnagar airport that is also used by Air Force fighter planes.

"Their digital camera too had clippings of some prohibited spots - a photo of Jamnagar airport's main gate, boundary walls and also buildings. The two had also attempted to shoot a blue fighter aircraft. Air Force campus and station is situated right beside the Jamnagar airport and photography and videography in this zone is prohibited,"

Presumably, everything they recorded was viewable from public roadways since neither linked articles mentioned anything about criminal trespassing. I wonder how many of India's citizenry or tourists know about the ban on photographing those areas? Were there any signs posted? Anyway the whole mess sounds like an overreaction due to the Mumbai shootings.

Re:With a name like "The Official Secrets Act" (3, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166501)

That's the Official Secrets Act of 1923.

India didn't become an independent nation until after WW II. Checking Wikipedia, I find that this law was held over from the British colonial administration. Interesting.

Re:With a name like "The Official Secrets Act" (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166371)

You shouldn't have been modded as funny, since its the truth.

Bankrupting justice (4, Insightful)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165325)

Governments spend billions of dollars and many years building up their credibility. Every time the justice system fails, that credit is lost. In time, if corrective measures aren't taken, the justice department finds itself bankrupt - people have zero respect for the law (because it is corrupt), and much contempt for the law. Society becomes lawless.

And not just for the commoner - government workers break the law as well, and for the same reason. Lack of respect.

I posit that debiting the "justice account" by making examples of people, we (regardless of which country) fundamentally damage society and lay burden on those who will follow. It is immoral, and must be stopped.

Re:Bankrupting justice (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165807)

You know, before you mock the Indian government here, it should be noted that there *ARE* Pakistani spies and terrorists in India. And this sort of thing is exactly the kind of behavior you would expect out of them (particularly with the recent Indian/Pakistani tensions, the recent terrorist attack, and the possibility of an Indian airstrike against Pakistan's intelligence office). It may be a rush to judgment to condemn them, but it may also be a rush to judgment to just assume that they're just innocent mapmakers who happen to have extensive pictures of Indian air force bases too.

Re:Bankrupting justice (0, Redundant)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166451)

Welcome to slashdot!

Volatile India-Pakistan (3, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166571)

Standoff enters day 11,834 [theonion.com] . It's a powder-keg. For sure. They could totally nuke each other any second.

Re:Bankrupting justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166771)

really? terrorists drive around with obvious sensors on top of their cars? yea right, moron.

Re:Bankrupting justice (2, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165817)

Governments spend billions of dollars and many years building up their credibility. Every time the justice system fails, that credit is lost. In time, if corrective measures aren't taken, the justice department finds itself bankrupt - people have zero respect for the law (because it is corrupt), and much contempt for the law. Society becomes lawless.

Not all governments. Some governments have wisely looked ahead, realized this process is inevitable, and saved the initial outlay. Modern cases in point are Mexico and Russia.

Judge Moron (3, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165341)

How about Google Maps having photos of same roads already for *years*. Made by flying holy cow.

Re:Judge Moron (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165773)

In Soviet India, flying holy cows map YOU!

You're forgetting.. (4, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165825)

This is India. They couldn't possibly arrest a flying holy cow.

First link dead! (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165365)

Ummm...that first link doesn't work at all. Way to go editors.

Anyways, this really sucks for them. The article doesn't really say what they are being charged with or why having maps is such a bad thing. Lord knows I'd hate to be "grilled" for simply collecting data. Very scary.

Re:First link dead! (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165625)

'... Lord knows I'd hate to be "grilled" for simply collecting data. ..."

Fastest way I know to "Get Grilled".

Don't ask so many questions, you'll be allright.

This website sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165387)

Fix it you yobs.

I'm a RETARD and I'm ready to MODERATE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165407)

Look at me!!1!

I'm a dumbfuck and I have mod points.

Watch this!!

What was that

That is a retard in action

Don't Classify yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165421)

Unless more is known, they shouldn't be classified as terrorists.
India doesn't foster terrorists and I certainly hope they are not in the personas of Software Engineers.

Re:Don't Classify yet (0, Flamebait)

DougF (1117261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165487)

India doesn't foster terrorists

I think a number of Pakistanis would disagree with your statement, particularly in the Kashmir region.

Re:Don't Classify yet (0, Troll)

hchaudh1 (963268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166029)

I suppose you also support the "Evil western infidel" ideas of the Pakistani's idealogical brothers as well.

RTFA (4, Insightful)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165431)

The Times of India article claims that the two are being held and charged more for having film of an airport and an air force base, than they are for collecting GPS data. Using a DUI for an analogy, the poor lane control would be the GPS dish, and the film of the air facilities the half-empty beer bottle.

Re:RTFA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165533)

I'm glad somebody took the time to make a car analogy for me, otherwise I wouldn't have understood this at all...

Re:RTFA (2, Funny)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165551)

Technically, it's been a van analogy, but hey.

Re:RTFA (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166647)

Yeah, but if it is a van made in India, it is probably about the same size as a US "compact" car, so the car analogy holds.

Re:RTFA (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165693)

Fair enough. But that the government in question is trying to charge them at all for gathering GPS data is pretty lame.

Proof India's gov is not corrupt and incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165445)

Which ironically makes them look corrupt and incompetent...

No matter what, you gotta agree the timing sucks . (-1, Troll)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165455)

Didn't read TFA, because I don't care what it says.
It actually doesn't matter what it says, and that is rare on /. despite an overwhelming majority of /. readers testing the bounds with that one.
These dudes are cruising around [some part of a country that is, quite frankly, huge] mapping things and taking pictures of the airport and such, yet ...
India is WIDE AWAKE and VIGILANT after being EMBARASSED by TERRORISTS.

So, you get arrested. Next.

Wait a sec... (4, Informative)

UltraMathMan (1139987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165485)

According to TFA they were arrested for "snooping around Jamnagar" which according to Wikipedia "has shot to prominence as Reliance Industries, India's largest private company, established the world's largest [oil] refinery near Moti Khavdi village."

So very basically, this seems akin so someone driving in a car, decked out with electronics, around say, a nuclear power plant in the U.S. Not saying the charges are or aren't appropriate and there's no information as to how close to said refinery they actually were, but given the area through which they were traveling they should have expected some attention.

Wikipedia Article [wikipedia.org]

Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165549)

I'm an Indian. Buildings and installations covered under official secrets act have a clear sign that says "photography is prohibited and you can be charged under the act for violation".

So if they did photograph the air force base then they basically broke the law and have been charged. What's the problem?

Try taking photos of a secret Army, Air Force installation in US and see what happens ... guarantee the same result.

There is nothing to see here ... move on.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (4, Informative)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165717)

Actually, no, you can legally photograph nearly everything you can see from public land in the US. There are a few places where they're known to lack a sense of humor about it, but almost everything is fair game. (That said, there are a few rare restrictions on such things.)

Now understanding that this is the law in your country, and it is (apparently) clearly posted, well... yeah, they broke the law and got caught. As usual, /. distorts the story.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (1)

zappy5000 (203125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166189)

Dear QuasiEvil,

You are (almost) completely wrong about this. Go to ANY military airfield in the USA; there are signs specifying two things: It is a US Govermnent property site, so you must abide by all rules, regulations, and laws. Failure results in prosecution. Photogrophy is prohibited. To make a photograph is a Federal offense.

Same regulations can apply to military shipping ports and high-tech facilities.

Now I know that you will cite the cases of folks photographing "Area 51" / Grooms Lake in Nevada as not being prosecuted. Actually, it more a case of the authorities not being able to apprehend the camera men in the act. Recall the the Air Force also places several types of sensors so they know when folks are trying to take a photo from afar; these folks are are chased.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (2, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166381)

Go to ANY military airfield in the USA; there are signs specifying two things: It is a US Govermnent property site, so you must abide by all rules, regulations, and laws. Failure results in prosecution. Photogrophy is prohibited. To make a photograph is a Federal offense.

Agreed. However, you have to reread the QuasiEvil's post where he said (emphasis mine):

you can legally photograph nearly everything you can see from public land in the US.

Which means if you are standing on public land which is not part of the US Government property site, you can take pictures of the US Government property site even though photography while on the site is prohibited.

That said, I would imagine that most sites that have said regulations are not particularly close to public land and/or have some sort of obstruction to keep people from taking photographs.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (4, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166241)

Not so rare any more. Pretty much all the tunnels & bridges in NYC are "no photo" zones. Take a look at this entertaining gallery for examples [nowis.com] .

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (5, Informative)

gonz (13914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166439)

Actually, no, you can legally photograph nearly everything you can see from public land in the US. There are a few places where they're known to lack a sense of humor about it, but almost everything is fair game.

A few years ago I took a tourist photo of the Pentagon in D.C. from just outside the metro stop, which is pretty far away from the building. A security officer came and asked me to delete the photo from my camera. I explained that it wasn't a digital camera, but rather a disposable film camera. He said that officially he should make me throw it away, but instead allowed me to go on condition that I didn't take any more photos.

You're right that the law allows people to take tourist photos. But where "security" is concerned, it apparently doesn't matter what the law says.

-Gonz

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (4, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166577)

Actually, no, you can legally photograph nearly everything you can see from public land in the US. There are a few places where they're known to lack a sense of humor about it, but almost everything is fair game. (That said, there are a few rare restrictions on such things.)

Now understanding that this is the law in your country, and it is (apparently) clearly posted, well... yeah, they broke the law and got caught. As usual, /. distorts the story.

As to US laws, here's what 18 USC 795 has to say (in part).

"Whenever, in the interests of national defense, the President defines certain vital military and naval installations or equipment as requiring protection against the general dissemination of information relative thereto, it shall be unlawful to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation of such vital military and naval installations or equipment without first obtaining permission of the commanding officer of the military or naval post, camp, or station, or naval vessels, military and naval aircraft, and any separate military or naval command concerned, or higher authority, and promptly submitting the product obtained to such commanding officer or higher authority for censorship or such other action as he may deem necessary."

Executive Order 10104, 1 Feb 1950:

"... it shall be unlawful to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation of such vital military and naval installations or equipment..."

Atomic Energy Commission, US Code, Title 42, Cap 23, Div A, Subchap XVII, Sec 2278b:

"It shall be an offense...to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation, while present on property subject to the jurisdiction, administration or in the custody of the Commission."

The laws w.r.t. photography/videography/general data-gathering concerning anything that could be construed as sensitive are very broad, and enforcement and interpretation varies enormously. Making assumptions here can get one in deep trouble very quickly with many large, angry, heavily-armed men, one of which might be thinking to himself; "I wonder if I could just shoot this idiot? If my buddy Smitty is Officer Of The Day today, he'd probably cover me in the report.".

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166185)

I think you're lying. Post some pics of those signs in front the aforementioned buildings and installations and I'll believe you.

Judge the Law (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166409)

So if they did photograph the air force base then they basically broke the law and have been charged. What's the problem?

The law does almost nothing to prevent terrorism while throwing innocent people in jail for doing things a free person would normally do.

That's the problem.

We could have a really safe society by placing everybody under house arrest, unless they were being transported by the government to their work centers. Official delivery people could provide rations and perhaps emergency services personnel could use the roads as well. Then we just arrest anybody else traveling illegally and execute them for attempted terrorism.

I'll take some risk with my freedom, thanks.

It's a little different in the US (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166441)

You can take pictures of pretty much anything in public view, including things like military bases. For that matter, pictures are usually freely available online. Where the US's bases are and such are not secret. Even the locations where secret things happen, such as testing facilities you can photograph from public land. What they do is simply create a large exclusionary zone. So while the facility might be, say, a square mile, there'll be 50 square miles around it that are owned by the government and off limits. If you wander on, you'll be escorted off. However for regular bases located in cities you can see plenty of them. You can usually take a tour, if you ask.

I have a friend who is originally from India and one of the things that most blew his mind about America was the openness of the military. He went to an airshow and found out that you could walk up and touch many of the planes. That was rather unbelievable to him, that you'd be allowed such close access to this sort of thing. It's no big deal though, happens all over the US all the time.

There ARE plenty of off limits things but they are physically off limits. For example while you could certainly go and have a look at a military base, you could just drive on to it and go in any room you wished. But you can go take pictures if you like. Doesn't mean some idiot MP who doesn't know any better might not hassle you about it, but if it came down to you getting arrested, they'd be the ones that would get in trouble.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166473)

In the US, as long as you're standing outside the fence, there's nothing preventing you from taking all the pictures you want. I wouldn't recommend driving around ON the base while taking pictures, however. Google has pretty good aerial photos of the air base where I live; and, the street view clearly shows the base as seen along the fence line.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166545)

Its still wrong.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166651)

Quoting from two separate times of India articles

"The company says the two were surveying Saurashtra to collect data and maps for GPS services meant for mobile phone companies and other corporate houses. But, the company officials had not taken prior permission required for any such activity ," said Jamnagar police officials.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ahmedabad/GPS_surveyors_booked_under_OSA_/articleshow/3831158.cms [indiatimes.com]

"Usually an application intimating the district administration and police, detailing our nature work is sent. However, sometimes it happens that due to our elaborate mapping and presence of GPS device, our personnel have to explain their work. In this case, it seems, the application did not reach the district or police headquarters," said company spokesperson, Tulsi Das. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Ahmedabad/ATS_questioning_the_duo_in_GPS_case_from_Jamnagar/articleshow/3810468.cms [indiatimes.com]

Most likely the officer who made the arrest had no idea what a GPS is, so you cannot really blame them for taking some security precautions. Hopefully this will be sorted out in the end.

Re:Official Secrets Act != Terrorism Charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166735)

India's Official Secrets Act 1923 [wikipedia.org] does not only cover secret Army installations. It is quite broad in what is considered relevant objects [demotemp286.nic.in] :

8) "prohibited place" means -

(a) any work of defence, arsenal, naval, military or air force establishment or station, mine, minefield, camp, ship or aircraft belonging to, or occupied by or on behalf of, Government, any military telegraph or telephone so belonging or occupied, any wireless or signal station or office so belonging or occupied and any factory, dockyard or other place so belonging or occupied and used for the purpose of building, repairing, making or storing any munitions of war, or any sketches, plans, models or documents relating thereto, or for the purpose of getting any metals, oil or minerals of use in time of war;

(b) any place not belonging to Government where any munitions or war or any sketches, models, plans or documents relating thereto, are being made, repaired, gotten or stored under contract with, or with any person on behalf of, Government, or otherwise on behalf of Government;

(c) any place belonging to or used for the purpose of Government which is for the time being declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Act on the ground that information with respect thereto, or damage thereto, would be useful to an enemy, and to which a copy of the notification in respect thereof has been affixed in English and in the vernacular of the locality;

(d) any railway, road, way or channel, or other means of communication by land or water (including any works or structures being part thereof or connected therewith) or any place used for gas, water or electricity works or other works for purposes of a public character, or any place where any munitions of war or any sketches, models, plans, or documents relating thereto, are being made, repaired, or stored otherwise than on behalf of Government, which is for the time being declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Act on the ground that information with respect thereto, or the destruction or obstruction thereof, or interference therewith, would be useful to an enemy, and to which a copy of the notification in respect thereof has been affixed in English and in the vernacular of the locality;

And since it is hopelessly antiquated it is kind of [sacw.net] problematic [thehindujobs.com] .

But still, you are right, it's nothing outrageous, just a law that needs some update to come to terms with modern technology and habits.

Come on, this is 2008 ! (3, Insightful)

Milvuss (1417689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165579)

Governments have to understand cartography can no longer be restricted to military or other officials.

GPS, camera, satellites are ubiquitous, and we can see the result with things like Google Earth or wiki-like mapping. You can no longer make imprecise or secret maps. You can no longer forbid photos of any place you can see from a public location. You can no longer base your security on obscurity.

After all, the bad guys probably already have all this information. You have to assume they have it, or your doomed to failure. Just make officially all those things public, and find new ways to implement security for your important places, for people, for the country...

Re:Come on, this is 2008 ! (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166085)

In many countries a government agency has the exclusive right to produce maps. Attempting to compete with the government results in being shut down.

Is it not the right of a country to determine who shall make maps?

But it's India (1)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166349)

Realistically though, this is India. Parts of it might appear the same on the surface where you'd visit as a tourist, but it's still not the USA or any similar country. There are a massive number of people (nearly 4 times the USA's population crammed into 1/3 the land area), poverty in general and overall standards of living are much lower, there are major distinctions in wealth, and a strong social class system still exists in some places and results in discrimination and unfair due process that couldn't be tolereated in many developed countries... despite some attempts from parts of government to curb people's attitudes. India is constantly on edge about its neighbours (especially Pakistan), and on a recurring basis it's a subject of some quite major terrorist attacks inside its own territory.

Through accident or otherwise, at least according to the linked article, it sounds as if these guys were mapping the area without having properly lodged an application and information with the local authorities beforehand to tell them what was going on and what to expect. To me it doesn't look as if they're being treated completely fairly, either, but compared with many others in India they're still pretty well off. Simply coming out and saying the government is being stupid because it apparently doesn't know about things like satellites doesn't seem very relevant to the situation. It'd make more sense to criticise some of the other problems that are much more serious, but they're also unlikely to change overnight. The authorities act as they are for a variety of reasons which are pretty complex and different from what might be usual, and it shouldn't be too unexpected that this sort of thing will happen from time to time.

Re:Come on, this is 2008 ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166673)

You know what - that's giving terrorists yet another way to fuck with us (I'm European and mean the entire western world). All our economies rely way too much on precise GPS already and thus all terrorists have to do to make one attack much more effective is to bring along a shitload of GPS devices. When officials find that out in the aftermath, governments are likely to panic and reduce precision on civilian GPS so that it becomes useless (it's enough that the US government panics because they control it and civilian GPS units come with disclaimers regarding precision). Now, many drivers (especially professionals) still find their way most of the time without a GPS but inevitably there would be a slight slowdown in all deliveries. However, plenty of old seafaring navigation services (radio beacons) have already been completely dismantled over here at least since virtually all vessels have GPS (+ backup GPS and backup backup GPS). Shipping traffic would be truly fucked in some parts of the world. Air travel would suffer enormously - prices would go up since there would be fewer flights. The changes that have been made to ATC to allow more aircraft in the skies, have only been possible thanks to the precision of GPS. The skies couldn't be managed safely as crowded as they are, if the precision of civilian GPS was reduced substantially.

You know... (1)

sysusr (971503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165599)

These guys could *actually* have been terrorists. Did Nokia Navigator commission them to photograph and document Indian military installations?

It's good to see that India isn't taking any chances. Imagine the outcry if a terrorist attack occurred, and it was later revealed India knew the attackers were documenting military installations and major roads but did nothing about it.

At this point in time, India is NOT the place to be testing the limits of political correctness.

I am beginning to see a pattern. (2, Insightful)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165633)

Step 1: Create and heavily market new technology to public as a profitable venture

Step 2: Make use of technology ILLEGAL

Step 3: Fill privately owned/operated prisons with resulting miscreants OR...

Optional Step 4: Use resulting abuse(illegality) as validation to extort money from general populace

This model fits with the whole Media/DRM crap and now seems to be used for purposes other then making money.

Trying to keep an open mind... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165637)

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the government charging these guys and not just say the government is evil. But time and time again, governments around the world have shown they aren't interested in whats right, they are interested in controlling the population.

Republics, Democracies, Communist, the type of government doesn't matter. The only thing that seems to matter is that those at the top, stay at the top and in control of those around them.

With all of the differing views around the planet, all of the different ways of thinking and ways of living from one culture to the next, one thing isn't different. Those at the top are doing everything possible to control those around them.

Makes the conspiracy theorist alarm in my head go off.

Biond...James Biond? (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165735)

Why would cartographers be taking pictures of airforce bases, in addition to their more expected mapping out of GPS routes? Does sound just a tad suspicious. Can't blame India for wanting to ask them a few questions--the first question being "Are you a Pakistani spy or a terrorist?"

Re:Biond...James Biond? (1)

Drencrom (689725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165861)

Why shouldn't they? Unless there is an explicit law prohibiting taking pictures of airforce bases they didn't do nothing wrong.

Re:Biond...James Biond? (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165949)

Well there is and they did.

Re:Biond...James Biond? (0, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166083)

Not to engage in hyperbole here, but on September 11, 2001 there wasn't a specific law against a bunch of strange Arabs getting flight training and bringing boxcutters onto commercial airplanes. That doesn't mean someone shouldn't have stopped them and asked them what the hell they were doing.

Re:Biond...James Biond? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26165899)

Last I checked, there are interesting planes located at air force bases, and all sorts of other cool gear.

What, it's illegal to take pictures of planes and airports now, military or otherwise? If they don't want pictures being taken then widen the fenced in/prohibited area (e.g., Area 51) or place the airport in a valley blocked by inaccessible mountains (ditto). Otherwise there should be nothing illegal about taking pictures of facilities from public locations.

If there is something so super-secret about that location that it must not be photographed then don't make it publicly viewable.

And what's unusual about recording the GPS position from which the photo was taken? You can find the same sort of information tagged to photos in Google Earth. Some cameras even record the GPS position when you shoot the photo.

Re:Biond...James Biond? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166433)

Why would cartographers be taking pictures of airforce bases,

Cause taking cool pictures and videos of military aircraft (particularly jet fighters) taking off and landing is fun.

What is terrorism, really? (0, Troll)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165845)

How is it defined by our governments?

The dictionary [merriam-webster.com] defines it as

"the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

It seems that the current *real* definition is "doing anything that a government or a private security employee sees as suspicious."

I am concerned by the lack of clarity and the over-reaching powers given to all kinds of enforcement agencies (I wouldn't call all of these "law-" enforcement).

Are we (the U.S.) becoming a society with anonymous reporting of "suspicious" activity and warrantless arrests? Are we scared enough to allow our guard dogs to tear apart anyone they or their masters don't like, just because?

Who is really safe in such an environment?

Everyone has their rational and semi-rational anxiety, fears and suspicions. Giving power to these is destroying our society and pissing me off.

Obviously we are not ready to fight for our freedoms and therefore don't deserve to be free. Meanwhile it's becoming more difficult and dangerous to do so without having one's own life destroyed (activists ending up on terrorist lists etc.)

Google Street View? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166043)

Seeing this article made me think of something I've been wondering for a while re: Google street view.

We've all seen the Google street view cars, or at least pictures of them: cars with 5-foot tripods and cameras on the roofs. We also know that Google has street-view imagery of LOTS of streets, including the passenger loading zones in front of airport terminal entrances.

We already know what overzealous/uneducated/paranoid airport security guards and police officers do when they see someone taking pictures in public, especially of an airport. Can you imagine what they must think of a Googlemobile? I can see a Googlemobile being pulled over and seriously harassed for "taking pictures of an airport" or some other made-up offense.

Taking pictures is bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166081)

For any publically viewable place it would be neglegent to assume every square inch of it has not already been photographed and distributed to everyone in the world.

If your AT strategy depend on this level of secrecy the citiziens of your country should rightfully be outraged and ask for resignations of the idiots who have so utterly failed at their jobs.

Deal with it, live with it, plan accordingly. All the governments of the world already assume their militiary activities are under constant survalliance from space... Since they ususally are :)

The algebra of government (1, Troll)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166095)

The more just, accepted, legitimate, and mature is a nation's government, the less paranoid and totalitarian it becomes.

were they filthy muslims? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166277)

if they were muslims they were terrorists. all muslims are part of a barbaric tradition that can be classified as nothing less than terrorism. reject the lie muslims!

FUCK ALLAH, FUCK MOHAMMAD, FUCK ISLAM.

This Airport? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26166323)

Google Maps

I don't know... (0, Flamebait)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166337)

I know that I and many other Americans have reservations about Indians...

Welcome to one of the most backwards countries (-1, Flamebait)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26166635)

If India didn't supply most of the worlds tech support, I'd say just burn it down and start over. Seriously, they still use a caste system. Why?
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