GOOGLE MAPS WILL SOON SHOW BORDERS DEPENDING ON YOUR LOCATION

Google Maps will soon display boundaries based on the user’s location. By doing so, Google hopes to resolve the confusion around the disputed boundaries.

The internet giant will soon be tinkering with its online mapping service. This will allow Google Maps to display the geographical boundaries of a country based on the user’s location. If a state claims that territory belongs to it, the inhabitants of that country will see this in the application. For example, the region of Kashmir, which has been the subject of a dispute between Indian and Pakistani authorities for more than 50 years, will be displayed differently depending on whether one is in India or Pakistan.

An Indian Internet user will see this area as part of India, whereas in Pakistan and the world, one will see dotted lines, indicating that it is a disputed border.

In short, with this change, Google seeks to better adapt Google Maps to the real political context of each country.

Google Maps, an application that aims to be neutral

Asked by The Washington Post about this upcoming change, Ethan Russell, director of product management for Google Maps, said Google strives to remain neutral on issues related to disputed borders.

“We remain neutral on issues of disputed regions and boundaries, and we strive to display the dispute in our maps using a grey objectively dashed borderline. In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local laws when displaying names and boundaries,” the senior official said.

A welcome change

This change will be appreciated, especially since it should help to ease the conflicts around borders that are currently being disputed between different nations.

It remains to be seen when Google intends to deploy it. Apple already did the same last November for the Crimea region. Under pressure from Moscow, the iOS editor has reworked its map to make it appear as part of Russia when you are in Russia, while abroad, it seems like part of Ukraine.

Joshua Cooper

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