Blocked: Apple is Denied Access to Mapping Oslo, Norway In 3D Maps Application [Update: Oslo Law against Apple’s 3D Maps expired in 2005, but police computer systems have yet to update to match the law’s expiration]

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When Apple emerged with its own 3D map application last year at its iOS 6 introduction, a number of individuals were excited – that is, until they took a look at Apple’s 3D maps. Unfortunately, Cupertino did not get it right when it came to cities, buildings, and streets. There were streets inside its Maps app that were absent, not to mention buildings and highways that looked deformed. All in all, Apple apologized to the public for its mistake, and seemed to face public humiliation after eliminating Google Maps from iOS. 


With iOS 7, however, Apple is at it once more, trying to right the wrongs it confessed publicly one year ago. The problem this time around, however, is that the Norwegian government is blocking Apple’s access to Oslo, Norway for its 3D Maps app. The way Apple receives information on streets and other geographic data is to actually “fly over” a territory (hence the name of its 3D maps app, “Flyover”). Once Apple films a place with its surveillance cameras, the information is sent back to Apple’s headquarter server and then processed on computers. With the Norwegian government blocking access, it seems as if Apple’s 3D maps app may remain incomplete. 


The reason behind the block is this: Norway says that it has a bunch of intelligence buildings and landmarks that it does not want made public on Apple’s maps application. One such example, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, concerns intelligence headquarters, places that Norway wants to keep hidden from criminals such as terrorists, who may try to attack these places should they discover them. Oslo’s mayor, Fabian Stang, wants the Norwegian government to reconsider its decision to block Apple. According to Stang, Apple’s efforts will encourage tourism growth in the country: 


“I think the new apps [sic] is [sic] very exciting – and they are also relevant for tourists, both those who are here and those who are considering going here. I have therefore asked the minister [Norwegian minister of defense] to look into the possibility of achieving this, while maintaining the security measures but me [sic] must consider.”


One way that Apple and Norway could resolve this issue is to allow Apple to film certain areas of Oslo and not others. If Apple did this, however, the company would have to either leave certain areas blank or place false landmarks and streets in places where they do not exist. Both of these actions would still draw conspicuous attention to areas where these buildings are, which is what the Norwegian government is fighting against at the moment. I’m not sure that there is an easy way to resolve this one, but it seems as if the Norwegian government may have to invest in remodeling its intelligence buildings to look like normal landmarks in order to detract attention away from these places. If not, Oslo may be a huge gap on Apple’s new and improved 3D maps app. 


Even if Apple leaves Oslo blank on its 3D maps, Oslo will still draw unwanted attention to itself, with many wondering why Apple would do such a thing. Ultimately, the Norwegian government will call the shots on this one. 


What do you think? Should the Norwegian government refuse to include Oslo on Norway’s maps in Apple’s “Flyover” application? If you live in Oslo and disagree with the Norwegian government’s decision, we’d like to hear from you. If you live in other countries and want to have an opinion on this matter, please give us your thoughts in the comments below. 

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