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Iran Threatens Legal Action Against Google For Not Labeling Gulf 'Persian' 246

Posted by timothy
from the hearts-and-mines dept.
New submitter PantherSE writes with an article at CNN about the geopolitical importance of labeling, excerpting thus: "Iran has threatened legal action against Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf on its maps. 'Toying with modern technologies in political issues is among the new measures by the enemies against Iran, (and) in this regard, Google has been treated as a plaything,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Thursday, according to state-run Press TV. He added that 'omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation.'"
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Iran Threatens Legal Action Against Google For Not Labeling Gulf 'Persian'

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  • Seems so 1995... (Score:5, Informative)

    by adjuster (61096) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:36PM (#40032081) Homepage Journal
    Back in Windows 95 you could click on your country on the world map to set the time zone. A border dispute caused complaints to Microsoft and they removed the feature (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2003/08/22/54679.aspx). This reminds me of that, only sillier.
  • by perry64 (1324755) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:42PM (#40032179)
    I was in the Navy, and after the Shah fell and Iran became a thorn in the side of the U.S., we stopped calling it the Persian Gulf and started calling it the Arabian Gulf. It's still called that by the Navy and U.S. Government to this day.

    As it's bordered roughly on half by Arabian countries and half by Persian (Iran), there's a strong case for either.

    I looked on Google Maps and there isn't a name now, although I don't know if that was that way prior to Iran's actions.
  • Re:What's missing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eevee (535658) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:45PM (#40032231)
    Yet, a Google Maps search for the Persian Gulf takes you right to the unlabeled gulf, while searching for Arabian Gulf doesn't.
  • Re:Seems so 1995... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:46PM (#40032251) Homepage

    I had to check and sure enough the Persian Gulf isn't labeled. So I did the obvious thing and scrolled over to China and saw that Taiwan was labeled Taiwan.

    As far as geopolitics go, I think keeping China happy by not provoking them on the Taiwan issue is far more important than ticking off Iran by not labeling the Persian Gulf.

    I couldn't even fathom why this was an issue, but google brought up this link about a naming dispute [wikipedia.org] which Iran apparently takes quite seriously. So, if the goal was to piss off and humiliate Iran, wouldn't Google have labeled it the Arabian Gulf?

  • Persian vs Arabian (Score:5, Informative)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:47PM (#40032279) Journal
    Some of the countries on the South shore of the gulf want it to be referred to as the Arabian Gulf. Which pisses off the Iranians (as intended) who prefer to call it the Persian Gulf. Google is avoiding picking sides by leaving it unlabeled.
  • Re:Seems so 1995... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrb (1083577) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:53PM (#40032393)
    Indeed.

    Why isn't my time zone highlighted on the world map? [msdn.com]

    In the original release of Windows 95, you could change your time zone by clicking on the map, and the time zone you selected would highlight. Similarly, you could change your Region Settings by clicking on the world map. This was one of those little touches that made Windows 95 that much more fun to use.

    But we had to remove those features within months of release, even though we based both of the maps on the borders officially recognized by the United Nations.

    In early 1995, a border war broke out between Peru and Ecuador and the Peruvian government complained to Microsoft that the border was incorrectly placed. Of course, if we complied and moved the border northward, we'd get an equally angry letter from the Ecuadorian government demanding that we move it back. So we removed the feature altogether.

    The time zone map met a similar fate. The Indian government threatened to ban all Microsoft software from the country because we assigned a disputed region to Pakistan in the time zone map. (Any map that depicts an unfavorable border must bear a government stamp warning the end-user that the borders are incorrect. You can't stamp software.) We had to make a special version of Windows 95 for them.

    Geopolitics is a very sensitive subject.

    Google gets entangled in Taiwan-China dispute [msn.com]

    Google Inc.'s popular online mapping service has become entangled in a long-running territorial dispute between China and Taiwan.

    Until recently, Google's maps described Taiwan as a "province of China." That sparked protests from Taiwan's government, which has considered its island an independent state since ending a civil war with China more than a half-century ago.

    Shortly after Taiwan's foreign ministry formally complained, the China reference abruptly disappeared from Google's Taiwan map last week. That change has provoked cries of dismay in China and talk of a possible boycott of Google's service in that country, according to Chinese media.

    If I recall correctly, Microsoft also faced the same issue after they suggested Taiwan was somehow an independent nation in locale settings, but they changed it after the Chinese government complained.

  • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:08PM (#40032649)
    Persian Gulf Veterans would like to have a word with you.

    Persian Gulf naming dispute [wikipedia.org]

    "In recent years, due to increased cooperation with Arab states of the Persian Gulf, various branches of the U.S. armed forces have issued directives to their members to use the "Arabian Gulf" when operating in the area ("Persian Gulf" is still used in official publications and websites), partially to follow local conventions, or simply to follow local laws that ban the use of "Persian Gulf", e.g. in the United Arab Emirates."

    As it's bordered roughly on half by Arabian countries and half by Persian (Iran), there's a strong case for either.

    Well I suppose if you ignore everything else, including the fact that up until the 60's those Arabian countries were perfectly fine with the name, then yes, they have just a strong claim.

    It has been called the Persian Gulf since around 550 BC.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:09PM (#40032655) Journal

    It is not the only such place, either - Sea of Japan is unlabeled as well (I assume because Korea takes an issue with that label, preferring to call it "Eastern Sea").

  • Re:Seems so 1995... (Score:4, Informative)

    by wisty (1335733) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:00PM (#40033533)

    No, it's a "region". All the countries are "regions", but not all "regions" are necessarily countries. It's a great weasel word for people who want to reach some sort of consensus (i.e. on "country codes") without being able to resolve 50 year old conflicts. Taiwan also has its own "country code" (.tw), because it is an independent country, dependent territory, or special area of geographical interest - and the beauty is you don't have to say which.

    Seriously, Microsoft has had employees detained in China because they didn't make this sort of thing clear enough.

  • by andersh (229403) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:20PM (#40033857)

    The White House, Department of Defense, the State department and the CIA beg to differ.

    The Department of Defense says "Navy Looks to Bolster Capabilities in Persian Gulf" (2012):
    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67586 [defense.gov]

    The State Department notes in a briefing by Secretary of State Clinton on her visit to India in May 2012 that peace in the Persian Gulf is important:
    http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/05/201205085219.html#axzz1vAEAsbH0 [state.gov]

    The White House's press briefing includes references to carriers in the Persian Gulf (2012):
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/09/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-4912/ [whitehouse.gov]

    This is the CIA's World Fact Book entry for Iran. Look at the map saying "Persian Gulf".
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html [cia.gov]

    The State Department shows the same map for Iran ("Persian Gulf"):
    http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/ir/ [state.gov]

    The CIA's Persian Gulf War Task Force was last reviewed and updated in January 2012.
    https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/gulfwar/index.htm [cia.gov]

  • by slack_justyb (862874) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:04AM (#40038455)
    The Koreans dispute the name, mainly the South Koreans. Like all naming disputes, it doesn't matter the lands that border them, it's mostly a political and pride issue. Koreans dislike the name because the name for the body of water arose when Korea was under Japaneese rule, so it is kind of a reminder to them of that period. Not all things in this world are based on sound reasoning. Just a hint of research on your part would have clued you in on this, however, I have the fortune to actually remember this point from high school days. Ah, memories!

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