RFC: The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016


The government of India is trying to regulate the collection, publication, and distribution of geospatial information relating to India. Here is the proposed bill open for comments and suggestions. Deadline for comments is 3rd June 2016.

Basically, any Indian or India company/organization trying to do anything (either in India or anywhere) with geo data of India need to get a license.

The meaning of geospatial information in this bill is so broad and covers a lot.

“Geospatial Information” means geospatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles including value addition; or graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth or any information related thereto including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to a co-ordinate system and having attributes

IANAL.It seems to me that even a photograph with GPS coordinates be interpreted as geospatial informationa as per this. And, one need to get a license for that. People in danger situations communicating their location could fall under this too.

I think people contributing to Mozilla Location Service is covered as well.

This bill needs to be discussed widely. I think Mozillians in India should raise up.

Update (2016-05-09): A community has started to form around this for debating on, responding to and raise awareness of issues of this bill. SaveTheMap.in


How does this affect not-Indian companies who use India-related geospatial information?


Non-Indian companies can use such information outside India either under any international convention/treaty/agreement where India is a signatory or they should get a license under this Act. (Section 5)

The bill also says this:

(4) Any person, who commits an offence beyond India, which is punishable under this Act, shall be dealt with according to the provisions of thisAct in the same manner as if such act had been committed in India.

And, the definition of ‘person’ includes companies, firms and everything else. I would say non-Indian companies are affected too.


Hi veeven and jlaprise, according to me, the Bill has two main prongs:

  • All regulated activities if occurring in India are covered regardless of the origin or identity of the concerned person or entity. So even if a non-Indian company acquires / disseminates / publishes GI without authorization in India, the same would be punishable in India. (Section 1(2) - according to which the Act first and foremost applies to India). It is, of course, a distinct issue of whether effective enforcement can be carried out in re: non-Indian entities with no India presence.

  • All regulated activities if carried out by an Indian citizen outside India are similarly covered.

This is based on a prelim reading but happy to discuss it further.



Geospatial information is hot especially with the Internet of Things advancing by leaps and bounds. The Indian government’s licensing and oversight requirements would seem to dissuade domestic innovators relative to foreign ones. Disparities in regulation tend to create arbitrage opportunities. It would be better served by linking regulation to other large state actors like the OECD to affect a larger portion of the ecosystem.



Correct me if I’m wrong, but from the snippet you shared, it doesn’t seem to cover cell tower / WiFi information + coordinates, and hence the MLS or my own company’s service, Unwired Labs LocationAPI.


@g11, may be.

Section 3 (1) further says the following (highlight mine):

Save as otherwise provided in this Act, rules or regulation s made thereunder, or with the general or special permission of the Security Vetting Authority, no person shall acquire geospatial imagery or data including value addition of any part of India either through any space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles or terrestrial vehicles, or any other means whatsoever.

This has not become a law yet. Anyway, you might want to take a lawer’s opinion.