INDIA is to take a stand over maps that show Kashmir and other disputed areas as part of Pakistan or China, after a series of controversies involving Twitter, Facebook and Google.
Tough new laws imposing fines of up to pounds 10?million and seven-year jail terms were drafted after maps and location services used by the web companies allotted territory claimed by India to its two fiercest rivals.
Land claims between India and its two neighbours have led to five wars, and remain a highly sensitive issue. Any digital map of India will now need a licence marking approval from the Indian government, under the proposals. "No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries," the draft bill says.
The most recent controversy arose in February, when Twitter users "geo-locating" their posts in Kashmir were asked to choose between Pakistan and China, but given no option for India.
Kashmir is occupied by both India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both. An adjacent northeastern portion is also occupied by China. The new draft law is aimed mainly at online media, but traditional platforms have also come a cropper over territorial claims in the recent past.
Last year, Al-Jazeera news channel received a five-day ban in India for "cartographic aggression" after repeatedly displaying maps showing Kashmir as divided between India, Pakistan and China.
And The Economist magazine was forced to place stickers over a map of disputed borders in Kashmir in the 28,000 copies that went on sale in India back in 2011.