Google examining impact of new China laws on products

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Google Inc said on Thursday it was examining the impact of a new set of Chinese regulations toward mapping on its Google Maps product in the country.

China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping announced new regulations last month that required firms providing online map and location services in the country to apply for a license.

The laws give China the right to close providers that fail to get a license, reported the official China Daily newspaper on Thursday.

The paper also reported that the mapping bureau had approved 18 domestic firms to provide online mapping services and several foreign companies had applied for a license.

“China recently implemented a wide-ranging set of rules relating to online mapping. We are examining the regulations to understand their impact on our maps products in China,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Google did not say whether it had applied for a license.

Google Maps is one of the firm’s most popular products, enabling users to search local maps and plot routes for free.

China cited the need for the new regulations to protect state secrets and set out the requirements for a license to include having map servers storing data within the country and no record of information leakage within the last three years, the paper said.

The new mapping regulations could pose a new hurdle for Google, who announced in March it was going to move its China servers to Hong Kong, after a high profile diplomatic spat with Beijing over censorship.

Many Google products and services such as Google Groups, YouTube and Blogger are already blocked in China.

Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong