China's control over Internet map service

On May 17, 2010, State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping of China issued a new standard (in Chinese) regulating Internet Map services. The updated standard aims to reduce incorrect location information and prevent leaking sensitive information involving State secrets on maps.
The new standard (word document, in Chinese) could be retrieved from the official website of the bureau and I quoted some of the requirements.
1. The server storing map information must be placed in China and the IP address of the server must be provided.
2. Map data must be approved by provincial surveying and mapping administrations.
3. Qualified online map servers must have no record of information leakage in any form in the past three years.
There are also requirements regarding the qualification of employees, computer security and archives. For example, the employees must pass the qualification of State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, security policy must be approved by provincial mapping administrations.
The first batch of service licenses will be issued this month and according to Xinhua News, the authorities will crack down on unregistered or illegal Internet map servers and release the blacklist to the public.
A popular CCTV program “'Topics in Focus'” aired a program on May 17 to blame an online forum Moonlight for allowing users to post placemarks of sensitive military infrastructure which is considered “national secret”. The program mentioned Google Earth of allowing users to mark places and share placemarks. The forum owner, William Long, is a famous IT blogger in China, however, the forum and the blog are separate and according to data from Google Analytics, the forum only has 28 visits per day in the recent three months. Long said, “this was probably not directed against me but against Google Earth.”
Song Chaozhi, deputy director of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said in the program that “Once you get the geographic location of certain military installations that should be kept secret, that naturally constitutes a violation of state secrets.” One thing should be noted is that, a new amendment on Guarding State Secrets was submitted in April, requiring telecom operators and Internet service providers cooperate with public security and State security authorities on investigations of possible State secret leaks.
Dai Guan, a senior analyst of Analysys International , believes (in Chinese) the new standard is targeted at foreign Internet map service providers, such as Google. Google now has two map products in China, one is Google Ditu (local version of Google Map) and Google Earth. Server of Google Ditu is now hosted inside China and server of Google Earth is not. Yanghui Ren, another senior analyst from the same company, says, if Google cannot obtain the required service license, Google will not be able to get lower-level data of digital map which is now provided by a company named Autonavi and access to Google map services will be restricted. According to Wall Street Journal, Google has already applied for the license and a spokesperson of Google says, “we comply with local laws and regulations wherever we operate.”
A short note: Google's picasaweb and blogger were unblocked in China several hours ago.

One comment

  1. Anonymous

    What about People Maps – Who is connected to who ?
    http://Muckety.com
    If the World were 100 PEOPLE:
    50 would be female
    50 would be male
    20 would be children
    There would be 80 adults,
    14 of whom would be 65 and older
    There would be:
    61 Asians
    12 Europeans
    13 Africans
    14 people from the Western Hemisphere
    There would be:
    31 Christians
    21 Muslims
    14 Hindus
    6 Buddhists
    12 people who practice other religions
    16 people who would not be aligned with a religion
    17 would speak a Chinese dialect
    8 would speak Hindustani
    8 would speak English
    7 would speak Spanish
    4 would speak Arabic
    4 would speak Russian
    52 would speak other languages
    82 would be able to read and write; 18 would not
    1 would have a college education
    1 would own a computer
    75 people would have some supply of food and a place to
    shelter them from the wind and the rain, but 25 would not
    1 would be dying of starvation
    17 would be undernourished
    15 would be overweight
    83 would have access to safe drinking water
    17 people would have no clean, safe water to drink