History of penalties for distributing maps?
March 26, 2014 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I've heard stories from time to time about stiff penalties for distributing maps of cities, because in times of war, the enemy could use them as intelligence. Obviously, not contemporary stories, now that most everything is mapped a million different ways. I've heard it was true for Japan in WW2, but don't know.

Whether Japan or elsewhere, WW2 or before it, I'm not finding any references to this in any obvious way via search. Does anyone have any insight, a thread to get me going? Thanks in advance.
posted by cloudscratcher to Law & Government (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Kim Jeong-Ho was a 19th century Korean cartographer that legend holds was imprisoned and died under mysterious circumstances and his maps destroyed after the Joseon regent at the time decided the maps were a risk to national security. The view of modern historians is that Kim Jeong-ho's imprisonment for making maps was a fabrication of the Japanese colonial government.

More recently, S. Korean laws place constraints on what maps.google.co.kr is allowed to show for the satellite views of Korea.
posted by needled at 10:32 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Degrees of secrecy around mapping have a looong history; while I don't remember any descriptions of punishments, Maria Portuondo's Secret Science deals with degrees of secrecy in early colonial mapping of the Americas.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 10:56 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

During the Cold War, the best publicly available map of Moscow was made by the CIA, according to this article (by the CIA). "In 1989, the Soviet Government finally issued ... a Moscow map ... closely modeled on the CIA format."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:10 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anecdote only: my friend from England said that during WW2, they switched a lot of street signs around to confuse the anticipated Germans. The problem is, he says, not all of them have been switched back yet.
posted by Melismata at 11:15 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

How to lie with maps would likely interest you
posted by Blasdelb at 12:40 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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