Google Earth May Be Banned In China

    March 27, 2008

The Chinese government says it plans to crack down on "illegal mapping Web sites." Min Yiren, Deputy Director of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM), said there were around 10,000 online map Web sites in China, most displaying unapproved maps.

No Google Earth for China

"Some websites publish sensitive or confidential geographical information, which might leak State secrets and threaten security," Min said. He said those Web sites would be shut down.

On the Google Earth Blog, Frank Taylor wonders how this will affect Google. "So, what will this mean for mapping applications like Google Maps and Google Earth? Will Google be able to offer a China-sanitized version of the Google Earth layers to satisfy the Chinese authorities? They could modify the borders and remove unwanted placemarks from the Google Earth Community layers."

Taylor spoke to Google’s Michael Jones about the Chinese crack down on online maps. When asked about the China mapping application Jones said it "uses locally licensed data from reputable firms trusted by local authorities. We have no reason to expect that even the strictest enforcement of law would limit that map product in the Chinese market."

Taylor speculates that Google would make a modified version of Google Earth for Chinese users, "but I would hope they wouldn’t censor data for non-Chinese users."