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

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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  • What's missing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ericloewe ( 2129490 )

    Is the Persian Gulf unlabeled? Is it labeled "Gulf" (sounds stupid, but no reason for a lawsuit)? Is it labeled something else?

    • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:36PM (#40032089)

      Is the Persian Gulf unlabeled? Is it labeled "Gulf" (sounds stupid, but no reason for a lawsuit)? Is it labeled something else?

      It's labeled Israeli Freedom Pond.

    • It is unlabeled. Several of the bodies of water, including the smaller and neighboring Gulf of Oman, and around the Arabian peninsula, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea are all labelled.

    • by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:41PM (#40032151) Journal

      No. Google is moving to a sponsorship system. It is now "The Persian Gulf, brought to you by Budweiser".

    • by fgb ( 62123 )

      It should be labelled the Exxon Gulf.

    • It is unlabeled, but if you search Google Maps for "Persian Gulf", you get a pin right in the target. Strange though that it is not labeled at all.
    • It's unlabelled. Looks like Google is trying to avoid a controversy I didn't even know existed. Apparently some Arabs want it renamed the "Arabian Gulf."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cupantae ( 1304123 )

      It's got a big banner that says, "Getting first post is more important than adding to the discussion".

      But I'm sure you knew that already.

    • Bin Maps correctly labels it.
    • I thought the Iranians were complaining about Google not naming it the Arabian Gulf. Looks like I had it backwards.

    • Interesting. I checked a few days ago, and the label was "Arabian Sea". Gone now.
    • Is the Persian Gulf unlabeled?

      Yes, although if you search for "Persian Gulf", it takes you right there to where the label would be, exactly as when you search for the (labelled) "Gulf of California".

  • Oh it's on ____.

  • 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 ( This reminds me of that, only sillier.
    • 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 [] 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?

      • by vistic ( 556838 )

        What does China (People's Republic of China) call the island of Taiwan if not Taiwan? Formosa?

        If they want to avoid pissing off China (PRC) they would avoid labeling Taiwan as the "Republic of China", which they have.

        • It's labeled as an independent country, which I assure you is the essence of the dispute.

          • 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.

            • No, it's a "region". All the countries are "regions", but not all "regions" are necessarily countries.

              Huh. So are there any "regions" which aren't "countries" according to people who don't have a vested political interest in them not being countries, or is this literally a "Let's make China happy" weasel?

              • Alaska is a region and not a country. It's part of a larger country, the USA, but on Google Maps, it only says "Alaska" and draws the border separating it from Canada. The "Alaska" font is smaller than the "Canada" font however.

                Svalbard is also a region (and island chain), and not a country. It's owned by Norway, but Google Maps only shows "Svalbard". And the font is just as big as those used for other European countries.

                The ownership of both these regions is not in dispute (except maybe by Sarah Palin'

        • I recall the Republic of China participating in the Olympics under the name "Chinese Taipei" [] to appease the PRC
      • So I did the obvious thing and scrolled over to China and saw that Taiwan was labeled Taiwan.

        PRC does not have a problem with the term "Taiwan" as such, because it's just the name of the island. They only get a fit if you call it "Republic of China", or otherwise state or imply that it's a sovereign country.

        If you want another example where a name is omitted on Google Maps for what looks like political reasons, try Sea of Japan.

        • or otherwise state or imply that it's a sovereign country.

          Which, as I should have clarified, is exactly what they've done. Taiwan is labeled as an independent country. Contrast with Puerto Rico or any of the islands that make up the Philippines to see the difference.

          • When I look at it in Google Maps, I actually see the localized Chinese label, so I don't know what it says. But it doesn't look like a country label - it's slightly bolded, and larger than other labels, but e.g. Hong Kong is labelled in exact same font size/weight. And labels for individual US states and Canadian provinces are even more prominent.

            The only reliable indicator of whether it's a country or not on Google Maps seems to be the way borders are drawn - borders between states are solid, while those b

            • When I look at it in Google Maps, I actually see the localized Chinese label, so I don't know what it says. But it doesn't look like a country label - it's slightly bolded, and larger than other labels, but e.g. Hong Kong is labelled in exact same font size/weight.

              Then it's localized to also not be a country (or just more confusing with Chinese characters). On my Google Maps it's the exact same font as everything that is a country and nothing that isn't. It is very clear that it is treated as a country.

              • One interesting thing I've noticed is that it seems to depend on whether I enable WebGL or not. When it's enabled, it seems that labels are drawn client-side, and then the label for Taiwan is just as big as for China. Without WebGL, the labels are part of the tile images, and there it's the same size as Hong Kong, and smaller than China.

                I wonder if it also depends on the language for the labels. For me, all labels show in the local language - i.e. in Chinese for China, in Japanese for Japan, in English for

                • On the drop-down menu in the upper-right of Google Maps, where you would pick Satellite/Maps/Photos/etc, one of the options I have is a checkbox labeled 'English' which determines if the labels show up in English or their local language.

            • This is pretty confusing with Japanese prefecture boundaries/labels and 'ward' boundaries/labels as well.

          • No, it's not. Take a look at Svalbard.

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

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

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

      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 []

      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.

      • Google generally takes to naming things the local term. But I knew about a naming clash for Macedonia. Apparently Google has labeled it first with its native name, then the Latin character equivalent while also including the United Nations-recognized "FYROM" (the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia... yes, the "former" is capitalized correctly... it is also sorted as if it starts with a "t", because it does.)

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:41PM (#40032167)

    ... the Qatar Yacht Basin?

  • 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.
  • 'omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation.' - Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

    To which Google replied... []

  • It used to be right, and then they added in an extra g for some reason. I wrote a message on the Google Maps "support" forum and never got a response. I'd say Mehmanparast just had the same experience that I did, but overreacted a little.

    I mean, you'd have to be crazy to actually want to sue, wouldn't you?

  • While Iran trying to take legal action about this is just dumb, why doesn't Google just label it with multiple names or simply show the name based on the location of the client?
  • I read the headline and had a belly laugh to the point of hurting. What kind of legal action can they really take? I guess they could indict a few Google executives in their Sharia Court of Law which will amount to precisely nothing. In fact, I imagine Sergey Brin is laughing at this too. About the only thing Iran can do is rattle its sabre again to drive oil prices back up over a hundred bucks a barrel.
  • Google is anti-European! There's no label on the largest lake in Europe, Lake Ladoga!

    Or, you know, it could be just a cartographic layout decision, just as the lack of a label on the Persian Gulf is.

    • Google is even more anti-Australian than anti-European! You can't even find the Gulf of Carpentaria on a Google Maps search!

      It actually turns out that there is a whole naming dispute over the Persian Gulf: []

    • There's no layout decisions there, since the map is zoomable. They can always start showing the label at certain zoom levels - only they don't, even when other bodies of water of smaller size do at the same level.

      Nah, it's just Google trying to dodge the bullet. If they use "Persian Gulf", then Egypt etc will get mad at them. So they don't label it either way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:58PM (#40032451)

    I used to work for HP, and the Turkish government threatened to ban our Debian-based thin clients because one of the language options with Kurdish. Apparently, the Turks are so sensitive about the Kurds that even having the language option appear in the list was unacceptable within their country. They refuse to acknowledge the Kurds, so they try to wipe out any evidence within Turkey that they ever existed, past or present.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I forgot to mention that I believe the solution we came up with was to have a special branch in our code base that was identical to the trunk, with the single exception being that the Kurdish language was removed. We mercilessly mocked Turkey for weeks over the absurdity of their childish demands.

    • First they want to wipe out the Armenians, now they want to wipe out the Kurds. Those Turks sound like a bunch of jerks.

  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:02PM (#40032533)
    Just label it "Water". It's all connected anyway.
  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:10PM (#40032679) Homepage

    Oh, the many ways to provoke a nationalist!

    I used to hang out on the Google translate forum. Every week there would be some loony nationalist who was deeply offended that

    * His language was not implemented (Turks, mostly)
    * His language was not implemented to his satisfaction (Lithuanians in particular. "Our language is the most complex in the world!")
    * An "enemy" language was implemented ("Macedonian is not a language! It is a dialect of Bulgarian!" - said by Greeks)
    * Their national anthem inexplicably got the words "God Save The Queen" inserted into them (an Irishman, memorably)
    * etc.

    In any case, the only explanation which they would accept was a deep conspiracy at Google to taunt and slight their proud nations.

    • I want to shake the hand of the guy who wrote the code that added 'god save the queen' to the Irish national anthem. That's brilliant.

      How do you say 'god save the queen' in Gaelic? 'Dia shábháil banríon' according to Google translate (Irish is a language?).

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:11PM (#40032697) Homepage

    In what court is Iran going so sue Google? Does Google have a presence in Iran? Or are they going to send lawyers over to the Great Satan and file in their jurisdiction? That would be hilarious -- country has feelings hurt by multinational company.

    If I look on google Maps, Tibet is labelled as Tibet ... not the "northern resource area" or whatever China calls it. I still refer to it as Burma, not Myanmar.

    omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation

    And therein lies the rub ... countries don't have feelings. Getting all butt-hurt because the rest of the world won't label things to match what you want them to is childish and petulant ... but I guess that's pretty much Iran's foreign policy.

    The Foreign Ministry spokesman has a tiny penis, and a brain to match.

    I'd kind of like to see Sasha Baron Cohen as the Dictator simply reading the public statements which have come out of Iran over the last several years -- that would be bloody hilarious. Or, totally indistinguishable from the real thing.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:11PM (#40032699) Journal
    What sort of legal action, exactly, can you take against somebody for making a map that hurts your feelings?

    I've never heard of any legal success in the US on those grounds(though PR concerns certainly motivate companies to tread lightly) and under the present US sanctions, Google is unlikely to be officially operating within Iran at all(given the SSL MiTM incident a while back, there are obviously Iranians using Google services; but the sanctions make it rather unlikely that Google would choose to site any official branch offices there), so it hardly matters whether Iran has a rule against hurting their feelings in the process of mapping.
    • They threatened "legal action" but that doesn't mean they have to file suit in US courts. Iran is a sovereign nation and they follow Sharia law. The Ayatollah can issue a Fatwa to "all believers" to murder Google execs anywhere they are found.

      Reference: []

  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:12PM (#40032711)

    They should change their name from IRAN to IRAA. Then we would be scared of their threats. Next thing North KORAA will be taking legal action against the New York Times for referring to them as a "Stalinist dictatorship " [1.]

    1. []

  • (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheAngryMob ( 49125 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @04:24PM (#40032863) Homepage

    My suggestion for Google,

    Searches for "Persian Gulf" on are going to return:

    "Did you mean: 'How to violently overthrow an idiotic, oppressive regime'?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vik ( 17857 )

      I think there are a lot of Americans wanting to overthrow an idiotic and oppressive regime with secret prisons and officially condoned torture. They won't have to go very far to do it.

  • "Persian Gulf" It may not be labeled but that term certainly works.
  • "The spokesperson would not name any other specific areas that are not labeled."

    In related news, the members of the band "America" have issued a press release declining to give the name of the horse in the song "A Horse With No Name".

    -- Terry

  • Unless you're just looking for a fight, getting all pissy about it first isn't the best way to get what you want.

  • Just because we don't like their current islamist regime, doesn't mean they aren't right w.r.t. the name of the Gulf. It has been "Persian Gulf" for most of the History, and Google really ought to respect that. Now, suing Google is pretty pointless, if Iran doesn't have diplomatic ties with the US, but that's another story altogether.
    • technically, they're wrong. they assert that the the label was removed. this is false. the label was never put there to begin with. and it was never put there to begin with precisely to avoid the stupid, childish bickering over the term persian vs arabian. iran's diplomats should be tried under sharia law for wasting allah's time. if it were my maps, i'd make the label say Gulf of Fucktard Politics.
  • What are they afraid of? That people are going to call it the Israeli gulf?

    Get a grip, psychos.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"