CHINA> Regional
Bureau to control mapping and surveys
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-11 07:43

* To gather geographic information must have the approval. Illegal surveying and mapping for military use will be strictly prohibited.

GUANGZHOU: Authorities in Guangdong are cracking down on illegal surveying and mapping to better regulate the geographic information industry in the southern province, a land resources official said yesterday.

The provincial land resources department plans to strictly control the gathering, offering and usage of confidential geographic information, said Zhang Xinming, an inspector with the department.

Foreign organizations, businesses and individuals have been told that they must apply to the central government's surveying and mapping authority for approval to gather geographic information in the southern province.

Individuals and companies wanting to use planes, airships or balloons to gather geographical information must have approval first, Zhang said.

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"Illegal surveys and gathering of geographical information for maps, especially by foreign institutions and individuals, has hindered a healthy development of the geographic information industry," Zhang said.

These illegal activities have also threatened the safety of the country's geographic information, Zhang added.

"Illegal surveying and mapping for military use will be strictly prohibited," Zhang said.

The department also will carry out more stringent inspections on the agencies conducting surveys and undertaking mapping activities, Zhang said.

The crackdown, which began last month, coincides with a move by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping to regulate the geographic information industry.

The bureau is the only body in China legally allowed to undertake surveying and mapping, but illegal surveyors have been publishing and selling maps online for several years.

Officials at the bureau uncovered 791 cases of illegal surveys and maps online last year in China.

In Guangdong, some 209 websites posted illegal digital maps in 2008, and some confidential locations, such as military stations, were identified, officials at the bureau said.

But some websites containing illegal digital geographic information will not be shut down, according to an official with the provincial surveying and mapping bureau, surnamed Wang.

"We will help the website operators post legal maps," Wang told China Daily, adding the crackdown would not interfere with GPS (global positioning system) users' rights.

"Anyone can still download the legal online maps any time," Wang said.