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Google Considers China's "Web Mapping License" 133

eldavojohn writes "Back in May, China rolled out new laws requiring online mapping services to be 'certified' by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping. The laws appear to go into effect this month. Today an AFP article outlines Google's consideration of these rules and notes that it's unlikely Google will meet the qualifications to become certified as all of its servers holding the mapping data are outside of China. The AFP also reported that 'Foreign firms wanting to provide mapping and surveying services in China are required to set up joint ventures or partnerships with local firms.' Unless large changes are made, Google's services might get a lot more stunted as China regulates onward."
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Google Considers China's "Web Mapping License"

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  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:50PM (#32684312) Journal

    Frankly I'm beginning not to care. There's enough Chinese that if they got the guts tomorrow they could wipe out the regime, including the PLA, in about fifteen minutes (there would probably be a few tens of million dead, but Mao killed more than that with his incredibly retarded economic policies during the 1950s). People too cowardly to tear every Communist Party member's head off deserve the kind of rule the Party gives them.

  • by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:56PM (#32684392)

    If so, they're just doing their jobs, more likely their aiding industrial espionage.

    In all seriousness, Google can and should file a WTO complaint against China here.

  • by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:16PM (#32684652)
    Whether the motivation is espionage or "encouraging growth of domestic companies", the results are similar. China has no problems bending the laws to benefit their companies at the expense of foreign ones.

    Ok... that's their right as a sovereign nation, but I'd again point out that seeing the Chinese economy as a panacea of growth and opportunity will turn sour at some point in the future as firms wake up and understand how a monolithic government like China views them and the concept of "rule of law". Top down economies and societies have a relatively short shelf life; the Soviet Union proved that. When you have a small group of elites deciding the go forward path of any large economy, the results will be unstable... as the mistakes of these elites compound expect China to cannibalize more foreign business interests. I have no idea when this will happen, but I'd bet a few bucks that it will happen eventually.
  • Re:This is a joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:21PM (#32684704)
    And what are these 300 million equipped with? Nothing we'd call armements or weapons here in The States. However, they can eventually build the industrial base to supply these guys, but don't forget Europe has a billion people, and so does India. If WW3 happens, that'll very likely be the way things shake out.

    ... then WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones ... (apologies to Einstein)
  • Re:This is a joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:27PM (#32684756) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, but in many cases the Western companies' management doesn't care, because they're focused on returns over the short to mid term.

    And why not? Why not give away the company's crown jewels, if you don't see the downside for another three or four years? You might even reduce costs over that timeframe by taking a Chinese partner. If you're the kind of investor who holds stocks for less than a year, why would you care? If you are the kind of investor who rebalances his portfolio every year or so, you might well come out ahead. It's only the people who buy stocks and stick them in the vault for decades, or the people who work for the company that are screwed.

  • Espionage my ass... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @11:07PM (#32686676) Homepage Journal

    It's about control. They aren't trying to "find out" how Google does google maps, they are trying to create an in-country choke point. This choke point will choke the money from leaving the country _and_ choke the information reaching the citizens.

    Imagine if you were the Bureau of Stuff of Some Country, and you could take 50% of the profit on every enterprise taking place on the internet in Some Country. Imagine that you can do it by letting random enterprises do random things, and then only attach yourself once a random thing had proven profitable. This is the money half of the equation.

    Now imagine you are the Bureau of No of Some Country, and you could interpose yourself at the source of each new flow of information instead of needing a "wall" to selectively keep a flood of random Yes from entering your country. You could pre-impose your No well before it became a possibility.

    The control item is particularly important here because you cannot _firewall_ Google maps selectively.

    Say you are a Chinese dude, and you know that "something prohibited" is right north of something else. you can get that map of something prohibited by searching for that something else and then scrolling around. If china can require the information be brokered locally, the "Mass Government Grave" won't be blacked out or filtered, it will be listed as "Xue's Farm" or "Rocky Hillside Funtime Panda Reserve". Likewise for the "Comrades of the Party Beer Volcano and Free Hooker Forest".

    The problem with censoring maps by exclusion is that even the holes provide information. If you cannot control and _edit_ a map at the source, you cannot _believably_ obscure what you want obscured.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:03AM (#32688576)

    First off, China and the Soviet Union might have had something in common once, but no more. The Chinese today are as much about "communism" as the US is about free and fair elections--they give lip service to it but that's about it. China, in fact, is proof positive that democracy and capitalism have absolutely nothing to do with each other--that capitalism really thrives best in a dictatorship where the people have relatively little say. What China is engaged in is some good old fashioned protectionism. They're looking after their own economic interests, which is something the US and all the other countries that believe in this idiotic notion of "free trade" ought to be doing. "Free trade" means the freedom of large corporations to do whatever they want and the hell with workers or even nations, the Chinese know this, and they're smart enough to take advantage of our stupidity while trying to keep these large corporations from taking over their country. They're also dumb enough to allow their people to bear the burden of this through lax environmental laws, poor worker protections, and such. In fairness, it couldn't honestly be said that the US is exactly moving forward in those areas right now either, as our current cult of CEO-worship coupled with a pervasive anti-union and just plain anti-worker sentiment shows rather constantly.

  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:51AM (#32689878)

    As an amateur photographer who happens to carry an AMOD GPS logging device with me everywhere I go (to geotag my photos), I'm thinking that maybe China wouldn't be the brightest idea for me visit-wise. (I guess in a way it's a good thing I probably can't afford such a trip anytime soon)

    Basically, I'm guessing that if the Chinese government is that concerned about folks mapping things, they're probably going to take a very dim view of geotagged photos as well. I guess (if I screw up my world-view enough) I could sort of see why a totalitarian government could be very concerned about the "dangers" of such information. After all, if I have a photo showing some seriously poor village on the edge of survival, but tag it as being somewhere that the official propaganda says is an economic dynamo, it kind of exposes the lie. It's far easier to just step on my neck with their jack boots.

    On the other hand, I would point out that gps loggers these days are very small and compact and don't actually require you to be walking around with big, obvious "HEY I'M IN UR BASE RECORDING UR COORDINATES" equipment... It seems to me that unless you tightly control where a tourist can go and what they can see (which I assume China does to some extent), the information WILL get out.

    Truthfully, there isn't that much of a real national security issue anyway... Satellite imagery for ever square foot of the Earth is available... maybe not to super-high resolution in every corner yet, but it's getting there. An invading army doesn't need to know the name of the street to bomb it. This is purly "national security" from the viewpoint of a very paranoid totalitarian regime.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser