China Tightens GPS Data Security

China’s security agency has initiated a campaign to counteract the theft of crucial geographical data by foreign powers, according to an announcement from the Ministry of State Security. This response follows unauthorized access to strategic geographical information, which was revealed through China’s versatile WeChat app.
In light of these security breaches, the State Security Ministry has rolled out multiple measures to raise awareness among the government and the public regarding data protection. This heightened focus is aimed at safeguarding what the government deems as a vital asset, particularly in the midst of escalating global tensions and increased technological rivalry, notably with the United States.
The campaign reflects growing concerns about data security and is part of President Xi Jinping’s broader efforts to assert greater control over the flow of information in a highly monitored state, encompassing both offline and online surveillance.
This new drive, termed as a “special corrective action to halt nefarious activities,” specifically targets the misuse of GPS and other positioning data, both historical and real-time, that could potentially serve the interests of foreign intelligence agencies.
The ministry emphasized the significance of geographical information data as a high-value intelligence asset and highlighted fears that adversaries might exploit this data to create detailed maps of critical areas related to transportation, energy infrastructure, and national defense. They argue that such information could significantly compromise China’s military security by facilitating activities like reconnaissance, surveillance, and military operations.
Additionally, the ministry expressed concerns about foreign entities actively seeking out geographical information data and attempting to leverage geographical information system software for intelligence theft. Allegedly, these entities are establishing connections to overseas servers during software usage, collecting extensive user data, and intentionally embedding ‘backdoors’ to facilitate cyberattacks and data theft.
To address these security risks, Chinese authorities have initiated special investigations and implemented regulations focused on enhancing the security of geographical information data. They have also actively guided and supported units responsible for conducting inspections to rectify vulnerabilities, thereby curbing major data theft, leaks, and other security threats.
Moreover, the ministry raised concerns about users with inadequate awareness of data security, cautioning against the practice of marking sensitive coordinates, such as data networks, military targets, and classified units, on publicly accessible maps. Such practices pose significant risks of information leaks and potential irreparable losses, prompting stricter measures to prevent inadvertent disclosures.
This initiative underscores China’s determination to protect sensitive geographical data from foreign espionage and showcases the government’s proactive approach toward data protection amidst intensifying global rivalries.

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