Israeli OpenStreetMap Community.
There are a number of users making edits which include military
installations. These edits are being removed by an OSM user http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Mr%20Massri
The DWG was contacted by another user to have their assistance in
dealing with this matter.
I have taken on this task, and contacted the user.
He admits to removing the changesets in question, as well as other
changesets. This user is prolific and many of his edits are considered
good, other than these deletions.
His explanation for these removals is several fold, but mostly around
the issue of the legal question of whether or not military
installations are allowed to be mapped. He has made several statements
about mapping, so I requested the exact law he’s citing, which he
provided me. The links to the relevant laws, in their original
Hebrew is at:
Based on his response, I decided that the best thing to do was to
collection information, look at past examples, and then render a
decision on how to proceed.
I am sharing the results of that decision with the community.
My findings in this situation are the following:
A. OSM in Israel
Israel does not have an active in person community. It has no
regular physical meetings, nor regular virtual meetings.
The Israeli community communicates primarily over the OSM forums,
though it does have an osm-il mailing list and #osm-il IRC channel
A set of mapping conventions for Israel is at
http://wiki.osm.org/wiki/WikiProject_Israel#Conventions but these
are largely the work of a single user and do not address military
B. The data in question
The data in question is several changets made by several users, most
of which is simply either landuse data, or data which was traced by
publicly available areal imagery.
C. Background on “Mr Massri”
Mr Massri used to go by the nick Wikipod
Mr Massri did remove the objects he is accused of
moving, and several more, across multiple changesets and multiple
Mr Massri is a prolific mapper in Israel
E. Military Installations and Israel
According to my understanding of Israeli law, which is based on a
translation provided by Mr Massri, there are rules regarding
the"tracing" of military installations is that this is a potential
crime in Israel. In addition, “transmission of information to the
enemy” could also be used this way.
These are interpretations of the law, and would require an Israeli
lawyer to understand the actual meaning, which we do not have in
The information on the names and locations of military bases is
already widely available on the Internet, including Wikipedia
There is satellite imagery available for these area, which is how
this data appears to be traced from
There are apparently road signs naming these installations and how
to get to them from the highway
This issue has been discussed before on the Israeli forums
E. OSM/DWG Policies around this issue
The DWG policy around removal of people’s data is clear, that this
is vandalism by deletion.
Not informing or discussing the edits with the users also makes
this qualify more as vandalism.
The DWG would prefer if local issues were handled locally, and
would prefer to adhere to local mapping conventions if they exist.
In addition to the vandalism issue, the changesets where these
deletions occured were also not descriptive
Therefore, based on all this, I have taken the following actions:
I have asked Mr Massri to revert his changesets or that we would do
so. Since he has declined to revert them (which would provide me
additional information about which changesets need reverting), I am
reverting them myself. Unfortunately in these cases, reverts often
create errors, especially because of the time that has passed. So it
would behoove the community to review the areas that are reverted
(I can provide a final list of my own changesets to review the areas).
In addition, we have informed Mr Massri that if he takes this action
in the future, that the DWG will take more serious actions, including
a temporary or possible permanent ban on his account. It is not our
wish to do that, so hopefully with this warning in place, this
activity will stop.
What we would like from you, the Israeli community is the following:
If you find additional changesets from Mr Massri that need
reversion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know
If you know of other accounts doing similar work in Israel, please
let us know (the same way, by emailing email@example.com)
I would like to ask that the Israeli community come together on a
decision about this matter and that decision to be posted on your
I would also like to ask that the community make a face to face
meeting, either by getting together in the same place (Israel is
not so large that this would be difficult) or else by having a
virtual meeting with cameras. The US community, for example, uses
Google+ Hangouts for this purpose.