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China targets illegal online maps

China: China will introduce new net mapping rules to prevent disclosure of sensitive information such as location of army bases. Anyone who would violate the regulations may face seven to 10 years of imprisonment, according to Zee News report.

Song Chaozhi, deputy director of State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) said that an investigation would be launched to detect problematic Internet map sites. According to China National News report, under the latest standard, qualified online map servers must have no record of information leakage in any form in the past three years. The new regulation includes all maps downloaded or copied from the Internet onto cell phones and handheld computers. By December officials will also crack down on unregistered or illegal Internet map servers and release blacklist to the public.

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.

According to China Daily report, 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.

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 that 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.

Source: Zee News