South Korea rejects Google request to take government mapping data out of country

November 17, 2016 10:29 PM EST

The Google logo is seen on a door at the company's office in Tel Aviv January 26, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo


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By Joyce Lee and Se Young Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Friday it has rejected Google's latest request for permission to use government mapping data in servers outside the country, citing security issues with North Korea.

Google, an Alphabet Inc company, has said it needs to use the data on servers worldwide to enable services that would give walking and driving directions in South Korea.

"We're disappointed by this decision," Google spokesman Taj Meadows said in a statement, adding that the company remains hopeful it will be able to provide people in Korea with the full suite of Google Maps services in the future.

South Korea, whose 1950-53 war with North Korea ended without a peace treaty, argues that if it allowed such data to leave the country, the locations of military facilities and other sensitive sites could be revealed.

The government could grant permission if Google removes images of sensitive sites on its satellite imaging services, an official at the body in charge of mapping data has previously said.

But Google has rejected that condition, saying the information is widely available through satellite images that can be purchased freely.

The land ministry said it would reconsider if Google changes its position.

Separately, Google is under scrutiny in South Korea, with the antitrust regulator examining whether the U.S. firm's agreements with handset manufacturers on the Android mobile operating system limits market competition.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Se Young Lee; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)



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