October 27, 2017

We have been informed of an incident that took place last week. A non-Chinese flag ship alongside in Ningbo was boarded by the Immigration Authority. The entire crew were told to surrender their mobile phones.

Content from each of the crew phones was uploaded to the Authority’s agent’s laptop for inspection. Later, the agent explained the reason behind the search was a nationwide anti-terrorist campaign and that the search was for videos, files concerning terrorism or any other criminal-related activity. The ship was also advised that the same searches may continue as a routine inspection in the future.

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

Members are advised to be aware of the situation and to make their own risk assessments about what kind of data their seafarers are storing in their mobile phones. This incident could be related to the 19th Party Congress that took last week in Beijing but time will tell.