Perhaps that headline is a bit ambiguous, Google doesn’t need help with its mapping but it’s asking the government of South Korea to change laws and lift regulations in order for the company to more accurately map the country for use on Google Maps.
Google had closed-door meeting yesterday with South Korea
This is not the first time that Google has taken issue with South Korea’s mapping restrictions, which not surprisingly are rooted in not wishing to provide the malignant tumor that is North Korea with information that would help potential infiltrators or help its northern neighbors with artillery or rocket strikes.
“We are in a tense situation with North Korea and thus security is very important,” Koh Young-jin , an official at the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport recently told the Korea Times.
At the end of the day, Google is hardly being altruistic in its requests, but feels as a foreign company it is subject to regulations that ultimately benefit South Korean mapping companies.
The meeting yesterday between Google and South Korean officials was actually quite high-level given the fact that it was chaired by South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
While Google insists that these policies benefit local mapping companies led by Daum and Naver, the country maintains that the regulations in place are simply there based on national security concerns.
“We’ve had enough,” said Kwon Bom-jun, the Google software engineer most vocal in call for change
Google says that if a driving route between the largest city and capital of Seoul and Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, ends with an error message because Google doesn’t have access to government funded maps.
While Google is largely “banned” in China, the Middle Kingdom hasn’t restricted Google’s access to mapping data for nearly a decade and Google and its parent company Alphabet are apparently at their wits end.
“This is why we have separate domain services,” said Mr. Kwon. “Once we start to unite the features, that will make chaos for other countries, too.”
“No matter how many servers we have in Korea, we can’t have all of our Google Maps services handled there,” he continued.