China Issues Security Alert on Foreign Mapping Firms’ Crypto Incentives

February 22, 2024

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

The Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) has sounded an alarm over certain foreign mapping companies that are reportedly using cryptocurrency incentives to entice individuals in China to collect sensitive geographical data without authorization.

Here’s what we know:

On February 20, 2024, the MSS expressed concerns about these companies’ activities, which involve encouraging locals to use specialized equipment for “check-in” tasks on maps, thereby collecting and transmitting crucial geographical information to servers abroad.

According to reports from Zaobao, these mapping firms are particularly interested in sensitive areas within China, offering higher cryptocurrency rewards for data from these locations. This has led to an increase in unauthorized data collection activities, with individuals being drawn to these high-reward areas, thereby posing a significant threat to China’s national security.

The MSS highlighted the dual-edged nature of advanced technologies like big data, which, despite enhancing navigation accuracy and daily convenience, also escalates the risk of leaking sensitive data. This data, encompassing critical traffic networks, vital infrastructure, and military facilities, could potentially be analyzed and used by foreign entities.

In response to this escalating threat, Chinese national security authorities are collaborating with relevant departments to clamp down on the illegal activities of both domestic and foreign individuals and enterprises involved in the unauthorized collection and trafficking of China’s sensitive geographical spatial information.

The MSS’s statement also pointed out the legal implications of such activities, noting that collecting and transmitting geographical spatial information data across borders without proper mapping qualifications in China could contravene several Chinese laws, including the Counter-Espionage Law, the Surveying and Mapping Law, and the Data Security Law.

This development underscores the intricate relationship between geographical spatial information data and national security. The Chinese government is taking decisive steps to protect its sovereignty, security, and developmental interests from the potential risks posed by unauthorized and illegal data collection by foreign entities operating without the requisite mapping qualifications within the country.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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