• China's State Council has released a set of new regulations governing online map service providers.

China's State Council has released a set of new regulations governing online map service providers. (Photo : www.china-embassy.org)

Online map providers have been asked to store geographic data within the Chinese territory based on a new regulation on maps released by the government on Monday, Dec. 14, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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According to the report, the new regulation was signed by Premier Li Keqiang and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. It includes a new chapter on online map services, as well as new rules on compiling, checking and publishing maps.

A statement released by the State Council said that geographic maps have great political, scientific and legal importance, as they draw the territory of a country, directly reflecting its national sovereignty and political views.

The rapid development of the geographic information industry in China, such as in compilation, content and forms of maps, call for improved public services, the report said.

In recent years, violations and leaks of secret geographic and personal information (such as errors in compilation) have occurred frequently and called for the strengthening of security supervision.

The new document replaced the 1995 regulation on map drawing and publication, which upholds the basic principles of safeguarding national sovereignty and geographic information security, as well as improving public services.

In the new document, rules concerning market entry, data security management, user information protection, supervision and registration of Internet map services were specified.

The new regulation aims to strengthen policy support and supervision over the industry.

The regulation encourages Internet map service providers to develop applications of geographic information science and technology and offer value-added services.

However, the providers' house servers storing geographic data must be within Chinese territory and providers must develop measures to ensure data security. This includes asking for users' permission before collecting and using personal information. They are also are banned from leaking, tampering, selling or illegally providing information to others.

Providers' databases must not store or record information prohibited from being shown on maps, in accordance with China's laws and regulations. Service providers are required to stop transmitting map information and report to mapping, publishing or Internet security authorities when illegal content is detected.

The regulation also requires state online map service providers to examine thoroughly the updated information of maps before informing mapping authorities and filing the information.

The document also encourages creation of map-related products that conform to related regulations and promote innovation in geographic information science and technology. It said that entities compiling maps must have the qualifications as the government provides the free use of nonprofit maps to the public and update the maps regularly.

The cabinet said this includes rules on free inspection of maps, an effort to avoid errors and leaks of information that threaten national sovereignty, security and interests.

Based on the new rules, heads of government departments who seriously violate the rules shall receive disciplinary action, while business violators will face administrative penalties such as fines, revocation of mapping certificate and business suspension.