China - Mobile Phone Inspection by Authorities

17th October 2017

The Managers have been advised of the following incident by the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA):

“A non-Chinese flag ship alongside in Ningbo was boarded by Immigration Authorities.  The entire crew were told to surrender their mobile phones.  Content from each of the crew phones was uploaded to authorities’ laptop for inspection.  Later on the agent explained the reason behind that search was a nationwide anti-terrorist campaign, and that the search was for videos, files concerning terrorism or any other criminal related  activity.  The Vessel was also advised that the same searches may continue as a routine inspection in the future.

Although the authorities claimed that they didn’t download any personal information, the situation is somewhat disturbing.  The flag State of the ship in question is now considering making a formal protest to the Chinese Government.

Please be aware and make your own risk assessments what kind of data your seafarers are storing in their mobile phones.  This incident could be related to the 19th Party Congress that commences today, and time will tell if the searches continue after that event has completed.”

Members are asked to note this occurrence and the potential for similar inspections amongst their own crews. The HKSOA would like to be notified of any such incidents in China and Members are asked to contact the Managers accordingly should it occur on board one of their vessels.

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