Friday, October 22, 2010

China's 'Google Earth'

BEIJING - A CHINESE government body has released its own online mapping service, designed to compete with Google Earth's popular satellite mapping service, that could spell more trouble for Google's services in the mainland.

Google and China have been at odds since last year, when a serious hacking attack originating from China prompted Google to ultimately withdraw its search service from the mainland.

'Map World' was unveiled by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping on Thursday, and can be accessed via The home page features an expansive view of the Great Wall of China, capped by clouds in the shape of the continents.

Google had not applied for a Web mapping licence in China, the English-language paper said, but Google's mapping service is accessible from computers on the mainland.

Regulations issued by the bureau in May required companies providing online map and location services to apply for a licence. In order to apply, firms would have to keep map servers storing data within the country.

Google said at the time that it was studying the new rules, which gives China the right to shut down providers that fail to qualify for a licence. Google's video-sharing site YouTube and photo service Picasa are both blocked in China, and its Google docs application is sometimes difficult to access. -- REUTERS

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