China, home to 7 of the top 10 container ports in the world and of course the 2nd largest economy in the world, has decided to prevent public access to Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals which provides location of ships around the world, citing national security concerns, the Financial Times (FT) is reporting, as Beijing seeks greater control over the country’s economic data.
As per the Financial Times, “The number of Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals coming from ships in Chinese waters dropped from more than 15 million per day in October to about 1 million per day in early November“.
This steep decline is reported to have come after a report in Chinese state media about AIS stations in coastal Guangdong province which warned that the intelligence extracted from this data endangers China’s economic security and the harm cannot be ignored.
China’s decision to curtail the flow of information out of its ports coincided with the Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect on Nov. 1. That legislation is meant to regulate the flow of Chinese data overseas and ensure the gathering of such data is minimized, according to state-run media.
Shipping companies have already reported a diminished ability to accurately track activity in Chinese ports without the data, Charlotte Cook, head trade analyst at VesselsValue, told the newspaper. AIS signals previously allowed companies and governments to assess activity levels in Chinese ports, which have been congested by supply chain snarls and pandemic controls in recent months.
Earlier this month, China punished an unnamed non-governmental organization for collecting “sensitive” maritime data and sharing it abroad. The NGO set up coastal monitoring stations near military sites to track offshore debris, threatening China’s national security, the Communist Party’s highest law enforcement body, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, said on its website.
Source : Bloomberg – by Iain Marlow, and Jing Li