South Korea rejected a request from Google to use local map data in the company’s global maps service in a much-awaited move on Friday that had divided the country for months.
The company was unhappy with the decision, which the land ministry said was based on national security concerns.
“We are disappointed with this decision. We have always taken security issues very seriously and will continue to provide useful map services in accordance with Korea’s current map data export regulations,” Taj Meadows, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement. communicated.
The South Korean government has said the risks outweigh the benefits of exporting the country’s map data to Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc.
South Korea, faced with the obvious threat of its North Korean rival, prohibits the export of local map data to foreign companies that do not operate national data servers.
Google runs its maps service in data centers outside of South Korea. Restrictions have limited the usefulness of Google Maps in South Korea, as the app cannot offer driving or walking directions.
The government had offered to allow Google to use local map data for Google Maps if the company scrambles sensitive information about South Korean military installations on its satellite map.
“Our position from the beginning was that if it removed the security facilities, we would allow the export (of local map data),” said Kim Tong-il, a land ministry official. “Google’s position is that they won’t remove them. The question was whether we were going to allow that anyway.
South Korea has been divided on the issue since Google filed its request in June. The government extended the August deadline until this month, highlighting disagreements between ministries.
The long-running deliberation reflects growing support for Google among some government departments trying to promote tourism and local business activities overseas. One of the biggest drawbacks faced by foreign tourists in South Korea, which has one of the fastest and cheapest Internet access in the world, is the lack of an online map service with navigation and instructions in foreign languages.
Some local businesses and consumers objected to giving Google full access to local map data, saying it would be unfair to local businesses that operate local data servers to support their map services. They said Google should build data centers in South Korea instead of asking for an exemption from the rules.
Google said earlier that restricting Google Maps in South Korea would be an inconvenience for foreigners visiting the host country of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
He also argued that restrictions on the export of local map data could hamper companies’ efforts to roll out global services using location data and deprive local consumers of cutting-edge services.