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Iran Threatens Legal Action Against Google For Not Labeling Gulf 'Persian'

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the hearts-and-mines dept.

Google 246

New submitter PantherSE writes with an article at CNN about the geopolitical importance of labeling, excerpting thus: "Iran has threatened legal action against Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf on its maps. 'Toying with modern technologies in political issues is among the new measures by the enemies against Iran, (and) in this regard, Google has been treated as a plaything,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Thursday, according to state-run Press TV. He added that 'omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation.'"

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What's missing? (1, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#40032053)

Is the Persian Gulf unlabeled? Is it labeled "Gulf" (sounds stupid, but no reason for a lawsuit)? Is it labeled something else?

Re:What's missing? (5, Funny)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 2 years ago | (#40032089)

Is the Persian Gulf unlabeled? Is it labeled "Gulf" (sounds stupid, but no reason for a lawsuit)? Is it labeled something else?

It's labeled Israeli Freedom Pond.

Re:What's missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032095)

It's apparently completely unlabeled, which is odd.

Persian vs Arabian (4, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40032279)

Some of the countries on the South shore of the gulf want it to be referred to as the Arabian Gulf. Which pisses off the Iranians (as intended) who prefer to call it the Persian Gulf. Google is avoiding picking sides by leaving it unlabeled.

Re:Persian vs Arabian (4, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#40032373)

Do you remember Alexander Makedonsky? Who fighted against, guess who, Persia? So guess what, it is Persian Gulf, it will be Persian Gulf, it was Persian Gulf when there was not even English language at all.

Re:Persian vs Arabian (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032481)

In your case, there still is no English language at all.

Re:Persian vs Arabian (1, Funny)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#40032567)


[...] fighted against Persia [...] when there was not even English language at all.

Oh, yes </asshole-mode>

Re:Persian vs Arabian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033137)

Congrats. You not only got asshole mode right, you nailed dimwitted fucktard mode.

Re:Persian vs Arabian (5, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40032655)

It is not the only such place, either - Sea of Japan is unlabeled as well (I assume because Korea takes an issue with that label, preferring to call it "Eastern Sea").

Re:Persian vs Arabian (3)

slack_justyb (862874) | about 2 years ago | (#40033085)

Excellent point! Indeed the Sea of Japan is unlabeled for the exact same reason. The name of the body of water is disputed. You deserve mod points!

Re:Persian vs Arabian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033257)

Of course, this all could be avoided if they named it the "Prince of Persia: Gulf", sponsored by EA.

Re:What's missing? (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | about 2 years ago | (#40032125)

It is unlabeled. Several of the bodies of water, including the smaller and neighboring Gulf of Oman, and around the Arabian peninsula, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea are all labelled.

Re:What's missing? (5, Informative)

Eevee (535658) | about 2 years ago | (#40032231)

Yet, a Google Maps search for the Persian Gulf takes you right to the unlabeled gulf, while searching for Arabian Gulf doesn't.

Re:What's missing? (4, Funny)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#40032151)

No. Google is moving to a sponsorship system. It is now "The Persian Gulf, brought to you by Budweiser".

Re:What's missing? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | about 2 years ago | (#40032197)

It is unlabeled, but if you search Google Maps for "Persian Gulf", you get a pin right in the target. Strange though that it is not labeled at all.

Re:What's missing? (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40032223)

It's unlabelled. Looks like Google is trying to avoid a controversy I didn't even know existed. Apparently some Arabs want it renamed the "Arabian Gulf."

Re:What's missing? (2, Funny)

cupantae (1304123) | about 2 years ago | (#40032227)

It's got a big banner that says, "Getting first post is more important than adding to the discussion".

But I'm sure you knew that already.

"BOWSRTATPG" (after Prince) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032467)

Body Of Water Sometimes Referred To As The Persian Gulf

Seems so 1995... (5, Informative)

adjuster (61096) | about 2 years ago | (#40032081)

Back in Windows 95 you could click on your country on the world map to set the time zone. A border dispute caused complaints to Microsoft and they removed the feature (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2003/08/22/54679.aspx). This reminds me of that, only sillier.

Re:Seems so 1995... (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#40032251)

I had to check and sure enough the Persian Gulf isn't labeled. So I did the obvious thing and scrolled over to China and saw that Taiwan was labeled Taiwan.

As far as geopolitics go, I think keeping China happy by not provoking them on the Taiwan issue is far more important than ticking off Iran by not labeling the Persian Gulf.

I couldn't even fathom why this was an issue, but google brought up this link about a naming dispute [wikipedia.org] which Iran apparently takes quite seriously. So, if the goal was to piss off and humiliate Iran, wouldn't Google have labeled it the Arabian Gulf?

Re:Seems so 1995... (2)

vistic (556838) | about 2 years ago | (#40032691)

What does China (People's Republic of China) call the island of Taiwan if not Taiwan? Formosa?

If they want to avoid pissing off China (PRC) they would avoid labeling Taiwan as the "Republic of China", which they have.

Re:Seems so 1995... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40032727)

So I did the obvious thing and scrolled over to China and saw that Taiwan was labeled Taiwan.

PRC does not have a problem with the term "Taiwan" as such, because it's just the name of the island. They only get a fit if you call it "Republic of China", or otherwise state or imply that it's a sovereign country.

If you want another example where a name is omitted on Google Maps for what looks like political reasons, try Sea of Japan.

Re:Seems so 1995... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#40032797)

or otherwise state or imply that it's a sovereign country.

Which, as I should have clarified, is exactly what they've done. Taiwan is labeled as an independent country. Contrast with Puerto Rico or any of the islands that make up the Philippines to see the difference.

Re:Seems so 1995... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40032965)

When I look at it in Google Maps, I actually see the localized Chinese label, so I don't know what it says. But it doesn't look like a country label - it's slightly bolded, and larger than other labels, but e.g. Hong Kong is labelled in exact same font size/weight. And labels for individual US states and Canadian provinces are even more prominent.

The only reliable indicator of whether it's a country or not on Google Maps seems to be the way borders are drawn - borders between states are solid, while those between internal subdivisions are dashed. But, of course, Taiwan being an island, there's no border to draw.

Re:Seems so 1995... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033019)

Yea, this was actually a point of contention for a while. Once upon a time Google labeled Taiwan as a province of China, resulting in numerous protests from the Taiwanese government. At the time, Google was happy to side with a billion Chinese users over 20 million Taiwanese users. Then when Google decided to tell China to go fuck themselves, they relabled Taiwan as an independent country just to twist the knife a bit. As far as I know, the Chinese government is still threatening Google over this.

Re:Seems so 1995... (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | about 2 years ago | (#40032393)


Why isn't my time zone highlighted on the world map? [msdn.com]

In the original release of Windows 95, you could change your time zone by clicking on the map, and the time zone you selected would highlight. Similarly, you could change your Region Settings by clicking on the world map. This was one of those little touches that made Windows 95 that much more fun to use.

But we had to remove those features within months of release, even though we based both of the maps on the borders officially recognized by the United Nations.

In early 1995, a border war broke out between Peru and Ecuador and the Peruvian government complained to Microsoft that the border was incorrectly placed. Of course, if we complied and moved the border northward, we'd get an equally angry letter from the Ecuadorian government demanding that we move it back. So we removed the feature altogether.

The time zone map met a similar fate. The Indian government threatened to ban all Microsoft software from the country because we assigned a disputed region to Pakistan in the time zone map. (Any map that depicts an unfavorable border must bear a government stamp warning the end-user that the borders are incorrect. You can't stamp software.) We had to make a special version of Windows 95 for them.

Geopolitics is a very sensitive subject.

Google gets entangled in Taiwan-China dispute [msn.com]

Google Inc.'s popular online mapping service has become entangled in a long-running territorial dispute between China and Taiwan.

Until recently, Google's maps described Taiwan as a "province of China." That sparked protests from Taiwan's government, which has considered its island an independent state since ending a civil war with China more than a half-century ago.

Shortly after Taiwan's foreign ministry formally complained, the China reference abruptly disappeared from Google's Taiwan map last week. That change has provoked cries of dismay in China and talk of a possible boycott of Google's service in that country, according to Chinese media.

If I recall correctly, Microsoft also faced the same issue after they suggested Taiwan was somehow an independent nation in locale settings, but they changed it after the Chinese government complained.

Re:Seems so 1995... (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#40033267)

Google generally takes to naming things the local term. But I knew about a naming clash for Macedonia. Apparently Google has labeled it first with its native name, then the Latin character equivalent while also including the United Nations-recognized "FYROM" (the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia... yes, the "former" is capitalized correctly... it is also sorted as if it starts with a "t", because it does.)

This just in... (-1, Troll)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#40032085)

... survey says, "get a life", you surely have more important things to address.

Re:This just in... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032291)

Americans decide what other countries should find important, yet again. The world doesn't give a shit what you think, about what they think.

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033173)

Apparently someone does give a shit or we wouldn't be reading about an American company's map labels.

Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032121)

These guys don't have any real problems to deal with?

Re:Seriously (4, Interesting)

Enry (630) | about 2 years ago | (#40032199)

We had a group of people that insisted on using the phrase "Freedom Fries", so I don't think the US is one to talk about what's silly or not.

Re:Seriously (3)

Dave Emami (237460) | about 2 years ago | (#40032609)

There's a bit of a difference between calling something by a silly name, and threatening legal action against someone. I don't recall anyone from the US State Department (equivalent to the Foreign Ministry, I assume) ever mentioning the matter, much less threatening anyone who avoided the matter by just calling them "fries."

Though I do wonder: legal action? What are they going to sue Google for? The closet thing I can think of is lack of trademark attribution, which is still light years away from being applicable.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032643)

Maybe, but at the time they weren't threatening to sue either...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_fries

More Pointlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032133)

A political hissy fit over that? What a bunch of cry-arses. Why didn't they just ask Google to label that "gulf" in the first place? Is the name of that body of water even commonly acknowledged?

I want to call the pond in my backyard "George", but it's not labelled as such. I'm going to threaten Google.

Do they mean ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#40032167)

... the Qatar Yacht Basin?

Re:Do they mean ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033055)

I thought it might be renamed " Purgin' "...

Political Power Ploy or Play... you decide... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032175)

I see this as a political ploy by Iran to show that they have influence outside of their country and can control a US based company with a threat of a lawsuit.

If there is a lawsuit and Iran wins, what do they gain except to change the name of the Gulf to Persian Gulf. But the real question arises, where will the lawsuit be fought if enacted. For if it's in Iran, then Iran is sure to win the favor of judgement, but with no teeth behind the judgement. If it's in the US, a US judge could throw the case out before it ever goes to trial as a frivolous lawsuit.

What would be the purpose for such a lawsuit, other than to waist time and money, or to lord power over people you don't rule?

US Government Does it Too (5, Informative)

perry64 (1324755) | about 2 years ago | (#40032179)

I was in the Navy, and after the Shah fell and Iran became a thorn in the side of the U.S., we stopped calling it the Persian Gulf and started calling it the Arabian Gulf. It's still called that by the Navy and U.S. Government to this day.

As it's bordered roughly on half by Arabian countries and half by Persian (Iran), there's a strong case for either.

I looked on Google Maps and there isn't a name now, although I don't know if that was that way prior to Iran's actions.

Re:US Government Does it Too (5, Informative)

0racle (667029) | about 2 years ago | (#40032649)

Persian Gulf Veterans would like to have a word with you.

Persian Gulf naming dispute [wikipedia.org]

"In recent years, due to increased cooperation with Arab states of the Persian Gulf, various branches of the U.S. armed forces have issued directives to their members to use the "Arabian Gulf" when operating in the area ("Persian Gulf" is still used in official publications and websites), partially to follow local conventions, or simply to follow local laws that ban the use of "Persian Gulf", e.g. in the United Arab Emirates."

As it's bordered roughly on half by Arabian countries and half by Persian (Iran), there's a strong case for either.

Well I suppose if you ignore everything else, including the fact that up until the 60's those Arabian countries were perfectly fine with the name, then yes, they have just a strong claim.

It has been called the Persian Gulf since around 550 BC.

Re:US Government Does it Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033013)

Google doesn't work for the Iranian government. They can name it anything they want. Such as "Gulf of a-holes", which would be appropriate.

Re:US Government Does it Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033061)

Understandable, but still stupid. This would be like the US getting all pissy about the name "Gulf of Mexico".

Re:US Government Does it Too (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 2 years ago | (#40032737)

But when we go to war, it's definitely with the Persian Gulf. At least twice, of course. Or is it best out of five?

Re:US Government Does it Too (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40032807)

Thing is, the attested use of the term "Persian Sea" or "Persian Gulf" dates back at least to the Roman Empire - and was universally used by all Western countries and all Arab countries. The idea that it should be renamed "Arabian" is a 20-century Arab nationalist rallying cry. I don't see any reason to break from historical usage to appease someone's newly-found sensitivities. When US appeared as an independent country, we didn't rename the Gulf of Mexico, for example.

Re:US Government Does it Too (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 2 years ago | (#40033093)

When US appeared as an independent country, we didn't rename the Gulf of Mexico, for example.

Hmmm.... I smell an opportunity to score some cheap nationalist political points. It's never too late to do something retarded....

Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032191)

It says Persian Gulf in Google Earth.

My street name is misspelled (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 2 years ago | (#40032207)

It used to be right, and then they added in an extra g for some reason. I wrote a message on the Google Maps "support" forum and never got a response. I'd say Mehmanparast just had the same experience that I did, but overreacted a little.

I mean, you'd have to be crazy to actually want to sue, wouldn't you?

Re:My street name is misspelled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032333)

I had a similar problem, and it was corrected within a week or two. They have an email address for maps corrections somewhere or other, try that instead of the forums.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032215)

And we can all go on now !! Everyone happy !! Even Hwhill Hwheaton !!

Name By Client Location (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#40032235)

While Iran trying to take legal action about this is just dumb, why doesn't Google just label it with multiple names or simply show the name based on the location of the client?

That's Funny! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#40032309)

I read the headline and had a belly laugh to the point of hurting. What kind of legal action can they really take? I guess they could indict a few Google executives in their Sharia Court of Law which will amount to precisely nothing. In fact, I imagine Sergey Brin is laughing at this too. About the only thing Iran can do is rattle its sabre again to drive oil prices back up over a hundred bucks a barrel.

I got totally lost (2)

Drunkulus (920976) | about 2 years ago | (#40032341)

For once I have to agree with the Ayatollah. I was trying to get from the Gulf of Oman to my golf game in Kuwait, and Google Maps took me around the Cape of Good Hope. I barely had time to grab a cocktail before teeing off.

Google is anti-European! (1)

Dr. Gamera (1548195) | about 2 years ago | (#40032369)

Google is anti-European! There's no label on the largest lake in Europe, Lake Ladoga!

Or, you know, it could be just a cartographic layout decision, just as the lack of a label on the Persian Gulf is.

Re:Google is anti-European! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40033123)

There's no layout decisions there, since the map is zoomable. They can always start showing the label at certain zoom levels - only they don't, even when other bodies of water of smaller size do at the same level.

Nah, it's just Google trying to dodge the bullet. If they use "Persian Gulf", then Egypt etc will get mad at them. So they don't label it either way.

Quid Pro Quo (1)

AnalogDreams (2478696) | about 2 years ago | (#40032391)

Google just wants Ahmadinejad to admit to the holocaust, then they can have their precious label.

hell yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032985)

they should totally take out a full page ad demanding just that!

Turkey threatened HP over Kurdish Language (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032451)

I used to work for HP, and the Turkish government threatened to ban our Debian-based thin clients because one of the language options with Kurdish. Apparently, the Turks are so sensitive about the Kurds that even having the language option appear in the list was unacceptable within their country. They refuse to acknowledge the Kurds, so they try to wipe out any evidence within Turkey that they ever existed, past or present.

Re:Turkey threatened HP over Kurdish Language (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032563)

I forgot to mention that I believe the solution we came up with was to have a special branch in our code base that was identical to the trunk, with the single exception being that the Kurdish language was removed. We mercilessly mocked Turkey for weeks over the absurdity of their childish demands.

It's a SCO type ploy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032465)

Once they get everyone to call it The Persian Gulf, Iran will then change its name to a variant of "The Persian Empire" (maybe "PE Iran") in order to lay claim to it. There will be lawsuits over naming, then lawsuits over usage rights. At some point, Ahmadinejad will claim to have proof of ownership in his briefcase.

New Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032491)

I propose we call it "that fucking gulf in the middle east that we can't decide on a name for"

Sure it's a tad bit wordy but I believe it accurately reflects its current status.

In related news (0)

amstrad (60839) | about 2 years ago | (#40032497)

... Google relabels Iran as Dumbfuckistan just to play "with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation".

Meanwhile at Google.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032529)

... not a fuck was given.

I think I'll sue the Iranians... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032599)

I think I'll sue the Iranians for calling Persia....Iran.

..why not call it the Persian gulf? (1)

foradoxium (2446368) | about 2 years ago | (#40032621)

This is stupid..it'd been the Persian Gulf for a long time, why change it. It'd be like people demanding we change the name of the Gulf of Mexico to "Gulf of Texas".

It's a freaking body of water that everyone uses..can we just label the thing the Persian Gulf and move on to more important issues?

Re:..why not call it the Persian gulf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032715)

i know right? just like renaming palestine to isreal...

Idiotic media spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40032631)

When USA media publish stories about Iran, it is always stories that either make them look like a bunch of evil terrorists or complete idiots.

I wonder if they do the same things there when one of your right wing nuts say something stupid in the media or when there is a shooting in one of your school?

Google vs. nationalist stupidity (5, Interesting)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 years ago | (#40032679)

Oh, the many ways to provoke a nationalist!

I used to hang out on the Google translate forum. Every week there would be some loony nationalist who was deeply offended that

* His language was not implemented (Turks, mostly)
* His language was not implemented to his satisfaction (Lithuanians in particular. "Our language is the most complex in the world!")
* An "enemy" language was implemented ("Macedonian is not a language! It is a dialect of Bulgarian!" - said by Greeks)
* Their national anthem inexplicably got the words "God Save The Queen" inserted into them (an Irishman, memorably)
* etc.

In any case, the only explanation which they would accept was a deep conspiracy at Google to taunt and slight their proud nations.

WTF? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#40032697)

In what court is Iran going so sue Google? Does Google have a presence in Iran? Or are they going to send lawyers over to the Great Satan and file in their jurisdiction? That would be hilarious -- country has feelings hurt by multinational company.

If I look on google Maps, Tibet is labelled as Tibet ... not the "northern resource area" or whatever China calls it. I still refer to it as Burma, not Myanmar.

omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation

And therein lies the rub ... countries don't have feelings. Getting all butt-hurt because the rest of the world won't label things to match what you want them to is childish and petulant ... but I guess that's pretty much Iran's foreign policy.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman has a tiny penis, and a brain to match.

I'd kind of like to see Sasha Baron Cohen as the Dictator simply reading the public statements which have come out of Iran over the last several years -- that would be bloody hilarious. Or, totally indistinguishable from the real thing.

What sort of legal action? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40032699)

What sort of legal action, exactly, can you take against somebody for making a map that hurts your feelings?

I've never heard of any legal success in the US on those grounds(though PR concerns certainly motivate companies to tread lightly) and under the present US sanctions, Google is unlikely to be officially operating within Iran at all(given the SSL MiTM incident a while back, there are obviously Iranians using Google services; but the sanctions make it rather unlikely that Google would choose to site any official branch offices there), so it hardly matters whether Iran has a rule against hurting their feelings in the process of mapping.

Re:What sort of legal action? (2)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#40033087)

They threatened "legal action" but that doesn't mean they have to file suit in US courts. Iran is a sovereign nation and they follow Sharia law. The Ayatollah can issue a Fatwa to "all believers" to murder Google execs anywhere they are found.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatwas [wikipedia.org]

Google.ir (3, Funny)

TheAngryMob (49125) | about 2 years ago | (#40032863)

My suggestion for Google,

Searches for "Persian Gulf" on Google.ir are going to return:

"Did you mean: 'How to violently overthrow an idiotic, oppressive regime'?"

Re:Google.ir (1, Insightful)

vik (17857) | about 2 years ago | (#40032981)

I think there are a lot of Americans wanting to overthrow an idiotic and oppressive regime with secret prisons and officially condoned torture. They won't have to go very far to do it.

Pigs, Beer, Fornication and Atheism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033037)

Google should label it "The Gulf of Pigs, Beer, Fornication and Atheism" and then say to Iran, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

And "Women's Lib." And dancing and loud popular music.

true nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033039)

So they are complaining about a free service??

In related news... (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#40033177)

"The spokesperson would not name any other specific areas that are not labeled."

In related news, the members of the band "America" have issued a press release declining to give the name of the horse in the song "A Horse With No Name".

-- Terry

Arab vs. Persian . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40033205)

Great video explaining the difference . . .


Ask nicely? Maybe you'll get what they want. (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#40033283)

Unless you're just looking for a fight, getting all pissy about it first isn't the best way to get what you want.

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