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China's SBSM to Review Legitimacy of Online Mapping Services

Legal Daily, 3/07/11

A spokesperson for China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) said today that its efforts to clean up China's geographical information market have entered the "retrospective" phase, during which it will review online geographical information and mapping services.

The spokesperson said that the "retrospective" investigation would require offices around the country to clean up and prosecute any illegal or unauthorized activity involving foreign entities, the military, or state secrets. The cleanup will focus on a thorough investigation of online map data and map services, including whether or not companies providing online map services have the required mapping and surveying and publication authorization for online map services; whether or not the maps carried by the services are provided by providers with authorized map numbers; whether or not the maps provide inaccurate representations of national territory; and whether or not the maps contain state secrets that have been designated as off-limits to the public.

According to recent figures from the SBSM, it has prosecuted 1,058 cases of illegal mapping-related activity since January 2009, more than 30 of which were major cases involving foreign entities or military information, and has ordered administrative punishments in 168 cases. It has sought out and investigated 41,670 online map sites, of which it found 3,686 to contain political or other errors; of these, it ordered more than 1,000 to amend their information, and ordered more than 200 to shut down.

Editor's Note: Authorized map numbers are issued to digital map publishers such as Mapbar and SBSM's own public geographical information platform "Map World" (www.tianditu.cn), which provide map data to online mapping services such as those offered by Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU). For more information on this topic, please see "Government Requires License for Online Map Providers," MD 3/30/07 issue.

Keywords: regulation national security online mapping Internet license State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping e-mapping

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