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China grants Internet map service licences

Thirty one Chinese and joint-venture operators, including Baidu.com and Sina.com, get Internet map service licence from State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

twitter-logo PTI   Beijing     Last Updated: September 9, 2010  | 16:40 IST

China has sanctioned Internet map service licences to 31 Chinese and joint-venture operators, after authorities tightened market access amid worries that a booming market for the service might undermine state security.

The operators, which include a national-level map publisher and serivces providers affiliated with Chinese portals Baidu.com and Sina.com, obtained a class-A licence from the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

It is not clear if Google has obtained the licence for the service. The company had recently renewed its licence to operate in China, following a spat with the government over privacy laws.

It is not clear if Google has obtained the licence for the service
Operators under a class-A licence will be allowed to conduct services which include map searching and locations, marking geographical information, downloading and copying of maps and map transmissions and quotations.

Class-B licences restrict companies to offer services of map searching and locations, as well as geographic information marking, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

All Internet map services providers will have to apply for a licence, while those operating without a licence would be prosecuted in the country, an official from the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said.

He, however, did not elaborate on the deadline for sumbmitting licence applications. Foreign-owned or foreign-invested Internet companies can apply for a licence in the capacity of joint ventures or through cooperation with Chinese businesses, the offical added.

Nokia Alliance Internet Services Company Ltd, a joint venture between Nokia and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd's New Alliance, is among the firms that have obtained a class-A licence.

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