China’s MSS reminds public to be vigilant to overseas companies illegally collecting geographic spatial information data
Published: Feb 20, 2024 11:56 AM
Photo: WeChat account from Ministry of State Security

Photo: WeChat account from Ministry of State Security

China’s national security agencies have found that some overseas map companies use virtual currency as a reward to entice domestic individuals to purchase and use specialized equipment to "check in" on maps, illegally collecting sensitive geographic spatial information data and uploading them in real-time to overseas servers, which poses a serious threat to national security, the Ministry of State Security said in an article on Tuesday.

Currently, with the promotion and application of cutting-edge technologies including big data, geographic spatial information data are being widely collected, making geographic navigation and positioning more precise, and daily travel more convenient . However, at the same time, the risk of sensitive information data leakage is also increasing, said the article. 

The ministry noted in the article that some overseas map companies even offer high rewards for specific areas, attracting "collectors" to focus on sensitive information. Due to a weak awareness of national security, some individuals were tempted by the opportunity to make money through map check-ins, and became accomplices to overseas companies with ulterior motives, helping them illegally collect and steal geographic spatial data.

The ministry warned that geographic spatial information data are a production factor and data resource for economic and social development. Once sensitive information such as transportation networks, important infrastructure, and military facilities is leaked and analyzed and processed technically, it will pose a serious threat to national security. 

National security agencies, together with relevant departments, have taken swift action to investigate and deal with domestic and foreign individuals and companies who collect and steal sensitive geographic spatial information data, timely block the illegal outflow of related data, and eliminate the risk of data leakage, the ministry said. 

Moreover, geographic spatial information data are closely related to national security, and the illegal collection and cross-border transmission of such data harm China's sovereignty, security, and development interests. 

The overseas companies and individuals involved have not obtained necessary qualifications for surveying and mapping within China, and their data collection activities are suspected of violating relevant provisions of the Counter-Espionage Law, Surveying and Mapping Law, and Data Security Law, said the ministry. 

The Ministry also called for all citizens to remain vigilant and protect national geographic information security by reporting any illegal foreign geographic spatial information data collection activities and related suspicious circumstances through various channels, including the national security agency's reporting hotline 12339, and cooperate in assisting with investigations and evidence collection.

Global Times