Professional Land Surveyor News: GeoTagging is Illegal in China
Today I found this interesting article by Expert Reviews, which reveals that the Communist China Government has made GeoTagging illegal. This is a fascinating story and union of two unlikely pairings - a camera review and surveying in China.
It seems that Expert Reviews was, well, doing an expert review on the Leica V-LUX 20 Geo-Tagging camera when they found out that the GPS features of this camera may not work in China. Surprised by this, they looked into it more and are reporting that the "Chinese government has made such devices illegal for use."
Why is GeoTagging Illegal in China?
If you're not familiar with GeoTagging here is a brief overview:
Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data, and place names.
Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information. For instance, one can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a geotagging-enabled image search engine. Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources. Geotagging can tell users the location of the content of a given picture or other media or the point of view, and conversely on some media platforms show media relevant to a given location.
Less commonly, this process has been called geocoding (ie. a geocoded photograph), a term that more often refers to the process of taking non-coordinate based geographical identifiers, such as a street address, and finding associated geographic coordinates (or vice versa for reverse geocoding), or to the use of a camera that inserts the coordinates when making the picture, for example using its built in GPS receiver.
Professional Land Surveyor Source - Wikipedia Geotagging
According the Expert Reviews, the answer to why China has made such devices illegal is that they don't want people using GPS GeoTagged enabled devices, like the Leica V-LUX 20 geo-tagging camera, because they don't want them to be used for any illegal surveying! Additionally, visitors to the country are being advised to turn off the GPS on all devices or risk being arrested and fined for noncompliance.
Here's a few thoughts on that last part concerning visitors to China using (or not using) GPS GeoTagged enabled devices:
- I'm not sure of the wisdom of not allowing tourists and visitors to your country to GeoTag photographs and share the wonder and beauty of your land and culture?
- Eventually, everything ends up on the Internet - just ask Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan or Jesse James.
- How many Tourist go to China to survey, legally or not? If this is really a problem, then I could use a few tourist to come visit me to do some surveying grunt work, like cut some thick and nasty property lines. If they also want to take photo's and GeoTag them, that's fine with me.
Maybe the real reason is that China is waiting to allow GeoTagged enabled devices until after China Builds Its Own GPS, which could give them a whole new slew of tools to put the "Big" into "Big Brother is watching".
I did somewhat verify what Expert Reviews found by visiting Leica's website. This is what I found there:
* GPS tagging may not function in China and neighbouring regions. Strength of satellite signal reception depends on location, and when restricted, positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.
Professional Land Surveyor Source - Leica
So, is it locational satellite signal reception, restricted inaccurate positioning data (how inaccurate, enough to miss an entire country?), or paranoia? My guess, could be two out of the three, with one being most probable. Also sounds to me like Leica is trying not to pull another Google in China.