China targets illegal online maps

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 16:57

Beijing: China will introduce new net
mapping rules to prevent disclosure of sensitive information
such as location of army bases, officials said, adding that
anyone who would violate the regulations may face seven to 10
years jail term.

"Those who upload maps to the Internet that display
sensitive military locations may be in breach of laws
prohibiting disclosure of state secrets and can face seven to
10 years jail term," Chinese officials said.

"Those who upload maps to the Internet that display
sensitive military locations may be in breach of laws
prohibiting disclosure of state secrets and can face seven to
10 years jail term," Chinese officials said.

Authorities are strengthening the supervision of
although Internet maps are popular, it is a problem if they
include sensitive information such as location of army
bases, the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) said.

Song Chaozhi, deputy director of SBSM said an
investigation would be launched to detect problematic Internet
map sites.

Under the latest standard, qualified online map
servers must have no record of information leakage in any form
in the past three years, another official newspaper China
Daily said.

The new regulation includes all maps downloaded or
copied from the Internet onto cell phones and handheld
computers, it said adding that by December officials will also
crack down on unregistered or illegal Internet map servers and
release blacklist to the public.

Some site administrators that provide Internet maps
and related services are unaware that they may be in violation
of certain laws. That`s until last month when an online forum
frequented by military enthusiasts was ordered to close.

The national surveying and mapping bureau reportedly
punished three Germans who collected geographic information in
Yichang, Hubei province and later mapped these in computers,
it said.

Similarly, the Longyan bureau of land and resources in
Fujian province reportedly meted out administrative punishment
to a Japanese who measured 195 locations inside Longyan and
located 80 of them on his map, it said.

In April 2010, the Shenzhen land planning and
supervision team detected a website named Moon-bbs.com, where
confidential geographic information including military
airports and locations of nuclear test explosions were
published.

The website was reportedly linked to the server of a
foreign map website, where users can scan high-definition
satellite pictures worldwide free of charge and mark the
location or relevant information of a military site.

In another website called Godeyes, a well-known portal
based on Google Earth with 440,000 registered users, people
can pilot virtual planes from Nanning, capital of the Guangxi
Zhuang autonomous region, to Beijing.

China has about 42,000 Internet map websites and as
the number grows, more cases of information leakage were
reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported 1,058 cases
of illegal surveying and mapping were busted in a 16-month
crackdown launched by the bureau and six central government
departments.

About 30 of the cases involved foreigners and military
information.

The agency reported earlier that 3,686 out of 41,670
websites providing map services were found to be problematic
last year and 200 were closed.

Moonlight Forum, popular among military observers was
closed down last month for publicising sensitive geographical
information such as the locations of airfields, navy bases and
the People`s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison.

Song said net mapping involved publishing maps with
wrong locations or information, and the other is leaking
sensitive information involving State secrets on maps.

All these will harm consumers` rights or even endanger
national security, he said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 16:57

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