[Tagging] Who has the last word over the access tag?

mail at marcos-martinez.net mail at marcos-martinez.net
Mon Apr 26 23:48:55 UTC 2021

Hi everybody, 

I tend to agree with Bert. We must not forget that maps are so vastly
important because they help people understand and explain the reality of
the world and thus what is on a map also will have an impact on it. 

The base question here for me is: Based on what do we map and tag
things? While one of OSM's main principle is "truth on the ground" if
firmly believe we need to expand this notion to the "legal truth on the
ground". Actually we have already done so but it doesn't come to light
except when there is conflict which we should be able to face. In short
it means for me that the map needs to reflect in some way what has been
defined as legal reality by the highest and most widely accepted legal
authority. This in itself might be tricky but at least this is what we
should aim for - and please don't misunderstand this as applying moral
or ethics, I am talking about legal reality as long as it doesn't
violate the most basic human rights. I'd never tag violation=yes just
because some dictator makes this "legal" for a specific ethnic group. 

How does the above apply to the fable? This specific case is not easy
because there is an extreme difference between two legal statuses and we
don't know how long the transition will take (or even if it will last).
If it becomes clear that the new government represents the new legal
reality on the ground and it is clearly specified that in that specific
territory private property is abolished I'd remove the access=private
tag. This wouldn't work though for those properties subject to higher
legal authority such as embassies because international treaties clearly
determine that foreign missions must not be violated. 

Should the reality on the ground should be systematically and
long-lastingly opposed to the accepted legal reality we should find a
way to adequately tag this dichotomy instead of just siding with those
who happen to be the most powerful. 


Am 26.04.2021 19:09, schrieb Bert -Araali- Van Opstal:

> I am very happy you come up with this fable, which is not a fable but daily truth and practice in many countries. 
> Especially in Africa we face cases of encroachment and land grabbing on a daily basis.  Both by private individuals as by governments or their representatives.  OSM wanting or aiming to map the ground truth, not a suitable tool at all to prevent or reflect "legal" status, either current or historical, enforced or not, applicable or not,  at all.  More and more OSM is used as a means to "create" ones ground truth, incite not only mapping but real world wars, with devastating results. 
> You can't avoid or invoke this by allowing ground truth to be mapped with tags based on observations of human behaviour or interpretations.  Where does the ground truth end where does it start ?
> The presence of a private guard or police man is not physical ground truth, without being able to determine if he acts on a legal basis or not, is present continuously or not.  Same as the presence of a signpost.  The interpretation of the legality can be a difficult matter by itself, where only the judiciary process can make viable decisions, we should not let a mapper make this decision. 
> Neither an ownership tag, access tag or other tag can resolve this.  What could help is that we allow mapping of non-physical or deterministic map items like boundaries but also to some extend the edges of landuse, but based on some "legal or authoritative" sources. The sources could be, by consensus, listed and acknowledged by the global or local communities.
> Having a consensus about these sources, we could use a prefix or tag to confirm if the ground truth we map is unambiguous or not. Allowing us to map the physical ground truth but give it context in regard to it's current legality,
> So in this case, from the point of view of the private owner, we could tag the path with access=private and legal=undisputed and source:legal=xyz, the signposts as owner=private.
> In the current state, with a local government "grabbing" the land as access=private;public, legal=disputed and source:legal=xyz;uvw.  The signposts being deleted or disused or removed prefix.  
> Thus we would be able to provide neutral and complete information and context, with some short term historic reference (as to the removed signposts) and let the map user or data consumer decide how he uses this information.
> It would be progress for OSM as we now leave it open, incite vandalism, mapping and real world wars. 
> Greetings, 
> Bert Araali
> On 25/04/2021 14:50, Frederik Ramm wrote: 
>> Hello, 
>> this is a fable built on a real-world case. Please don't guess what the real-world case behind this is; it doesn't matter. Do me a favour and discuss the fable. 
>> Let's assume you buy a large plot of land and a nice holiday home somewhere on a pacific island. You travel there regularly and enjoy the beautiful landscaped garden. You put up "Private property - no trespassing" signs and hire a couple of guards to ensure nobody enters your property. Consequently the paths in your garden are mapped in OSM as access=private. 
>> One day while you are in your home country there is a coup on the pacific island, and the self-proclaimed island government nullifies all foreign land ownership. Your guards go home and someone pulls out the "No trespassing" signs. Random people start enjoying your garden and the local police are watching. 
>> Let's say this goes on for half a year. The island government has no international backing but they control the island de-facto. You say that the property is still your property no matter what the criminals of the island government say. You take out a one-page ad in the island newspaper saying that the decrees of the island government are null and void and that you will sue anyone who enters your property. 
>> Still, every day people are walking across your property and the police are waving happily. 
>> Are the paths in your garden still access=private? 
>> Bye 
>> Frederik
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