Google Maps nears first deadline on China requirement

China is requiring all companies with online maps to apply for a state license in order to operate them in the country

Google has yet to apply for the necessary state license to operate its online mapping service in China, putting another Google product in jeopardy as the first deadline looms.

China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said in an e-mail that as of March 28, it has not received an application from Google. The bureau has said that companies operating an online mapping service without a license will be exposed to the public after the March 31 deadline.

If a license is still not obtained by July 1, the bureau will investigate and prosecute the companies according to the law.

It is unclear what penalties Google would face, but China often blocks websites that do not conform to regulations.

Two Google products, YouTube and Blogger, are already blocked by the Chinese government, and earlier this month, Google said its Gmail service was also being blocked in China.

Google could not be reached for comment. But in the past, the company has said it is examining the regulations to understand their impact on its maps products in China.

China introduced the new mapping regulations last year in order to ensure none of the online maps would reveal national security information. In order to be granted a license, companies must store all mapping data in servers located in China.

This month the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping also issued a statement, saying the bureau along with other government ministries would take action against illegal online maps. Online maps penalized with many violations will be closed, the statement said.

Google is the second largest search engine in China, with a 19.6 percent market share, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. Experts say the search giant's market share and its products have struggled in China partly due to the country's Internet censorship.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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