Confidential Geodata Protection in China: Challenges, Liability Concerns and Possible Solutions
In recent years, a growing number of foreign companies and individuals were involved in geodata violations in China. The Chinese government is facing greater pressure to protect confidential geodata within its territory. Geodata violations occurred in the course of illegal mapping and surveying, geographical and geological data collection and transactions. Although China has reformed laws and regulations to refine some aspects of confidential geodata management, existing rules remain ambiguous and controversial. This article aims to address the liability concerns raised among foreign companies from geodata violations. After defining the three most significant concepts, geological data, mapping and surveying, and state secrets, this article reviews the status quo, reasons for and impacts of geodata violations in China, to find out how big the problem is and why it matters. It then explores the legislative framework of state secrets protection in the context of geodata management; special focus is put on liability issues and problems of the current system. As a response to existing arguments, possible ways to improve confidential geodata protection and some practical tips for foreign businesses are offered.