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To: Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google, and Jen Fitzpatrick, Google Maps lead

Tell Google we need answers on why they aren’t updating their maps of Palestine

Tell Google we need answers on why they aren’t updating their maps of Palestine

Google needs to answer for its inconsistent practices that fail to provide high-res imagery for Palestine on their Google Maps platform — making it harder for researchers to study the impacts of war on Palestinians.

Why is this important?

Google’s censorship of high-resolution maps in Israel-occupied Palestinian territories hinders the ability of humanitarian and human rights groups from documenting home demolitions, settlement growth, and land loss. In Gaza, it’s preventing accuracy in documenting war crimes and human rights violations.[1]

Google is inconsistently applying their own internal rules on mapping. In other conflict areas, such as eastern Ukraine, Google responsively and quickly put up new imagery on Google Earth.

When it comes to Gaza though, Google has had access to high-resolution maps for over a year. But even during an active bombing campaign, where over 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and infrastructure like a building housing journalists is destroyed, Google isn’t updating to high-res maps.[2]

Google Maps has access to new imagery that would replace the blurry maps they have with updated ones. But so far they have sat on their hands, even though obscure, outdated laws that prevented these updates have been reversed for over a year. [1]

It’s moments like these that reinforce tech is not neutral. By failing to consistently apply their policies Google and its Google Maps platform is helping to hide human rights abuses. But this isn’t new for Google.

For some Palestinian digital rights activists, the slowness to update Gaza maps is a continuation of Google’s unequal handling of Palestine mapping overall.

7amleh, a digital rights group in Ramallah, asserts that the unequal mapping of Palestine is a human rights issue. Google Maps rarely includes the names of Palestinian areas unrecognized by Israel, yet has no problem including the names and locations of Israeli settlements. The maps don’t show roadblocks and checkpoints — resulting in Google Map routes that are useful only for Israelis and can be dangerous for Palestinians.[3]

Sign our petition to demand that Google provide an answer for its inconsistent policy that prevents a better view of Gaza to allow researchers, activists, and the media access to high-resolution maps.

Sources:
1. “Israel Can’t Hide Evidence of Its Occupation Anymore,” Foreign Policy, August 3, 2020.
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/03/israel-cant-hide-evidence-of-its-occupation-anymore/

2. “Google Won't Say If It Will Update Its Blurry Maps of Gaza,” Motherboard, Tech by VICE, May 17, 2021.
https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7evkn/google-maps-gaza-israel

3. Google Maps’ Endangering Palestinian Human Rights, 7amleh, September 18, 2018.
https://7amleh.org/2018/09/18/google-maps-endangering-palestinian-human-rights

Updates

2021-05-25 20:22:54 -0400

10,000 signatures reached

2021-05-24 16:14:48 -0400

5,000 signatures reached

2021-05-22 12:14:54 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2021-05-22 11:53:23 -0400

500 signatures reached

2021-05-20 10:57:31 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-05-20 10:32:56 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-05-20 10:27:19 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-05-20 01:32:47 -0400

10 signatures reached