Monday, February 8, 2010

Guest Post - India's Remote Sensing Data Policy

In an effort to build an international community of those interested in spatial law and policy I have started inviting others to publish posts here on topics of interest to them. With that in mind, the following is a insightful post on India's Remote Sensing Data Policy by Malay Adhikari, of the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. In it, he calls for the Indian government to revisit its Remote Sensing Data Policy.

In many countries, national security is a very crucial issue in the dissemination of geospatial data. This is true in India as well. However India’s data policy, the Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP), was issued in 2001 which is very old given the current availability of high-resolution (HR) geospatial data due to the tremendous advancement of technology. The RSDP restricts the dissemination of data less than 5.8m resolution, after that permission is required from the concerned authority. However the question is how relevant is this policy given that data less than this limit is available from other foreign companies. For example, compare Google Earth with the Indian earth observation portal, BHUVAN.

Given this background, what will be the solution?

One solution is sticking with RSDP and depriving the most people in India from the benefit of HR data. Another option is to follow the path of Google Earth. The second option is considered by some very dangerous to national security. But in the era of globalization, human security in general is as important as national security. Issues of human security include climate security, food security, economic security etc. Globalization brings all these securities at a common point and the importance of every issue has equal value to the common people. Therefore if HR data safeguards the other securities beside national security, the Government of India should think about revisiting the RSDP.

The one and only solution is that a strong Indian legal framework must be made for utilization of HR data in the public domain. If there is any misuse, the offender should face the highest punishment in India. Also the traditional mechanism of Indian judiciary should be changed to adjudicate such type of offence. Ultimately law will follow technology.

Please feel free to post any comments here or contact Malay directly at In addition, please contact me at if you wish to publish a post on the Spatial Law and Policy blog.

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