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Ashley Klepach FourKites headshotAshley KlepachProduct Marketing Manager, FourKites


In November, China’s new Personal Information Protection Law began blocking Automatic Identification System (AIS) data from being captured within Chinese borders, including ports. With Chinese ports making up a significant percentage of the global container traffic, it’s no surprise that the many international shippers using Chinese ports are nervous about reliably tracking containers in and out of China.

As the supply chain community has started to learn more about this law, there have been more questions than answers. Here at FourKites, our customers should feel confident that their international tracking visibility will be unaffected — regardless of whether it travels through Chinese ports or elsewhere.

New law shows limited impact

The new data privacy law applies to AIS data as it enters or exits Chinese maritime borders, affecting all shippers using Chinese ports and all the visibility providers utilizing AIS data for their tracking visibility. While this might raise some initial concerns, ultimately we believe that the impacts will be limited.

“Chinese ports are renowned for their efficiency,” said Jeff Wehner, VP of APAC at FourKites. “This Chinese data privacy law will not affect the product getting from Chinese ports to the vessel and across the ocean. With the industry’s best predictive ETAs and a modern tracking platform like FourKites, shippers can still be assured that not only are the vessels monitored upon exit of Chinese waters, but milestones are still readily available.”

No coal for the holidays for international shippers

While it is unfortunate that AIS data from China will be blocked, shippers should not fret. FourKites uses a multi-pronged strategy for tracking data across modes, and has never relied solely on AIS data. True end-to-end visibility uses data from a wide array of sources, including ocean carriers’ EDI, logistic service providers’ status updates, terminal operators’ events, rail systems integration, and even electronic logging devices (ELD) for over-the-road tracking.

In fact, the AIS data in and out of Chinese ports are only a small portion of the total international freight journey. FourKites will continue to provide milestones and updates through various sources at each leg of the journey. As a result, we do not anticipate a reduction in the accuracy of our patented Dynamic ETAⓇ for ocean, which is 20-40% more accurate than the carrier ETAs.

In addition, we do not anticipate that these changes will impact the ability to get containers on vessels. Chinese ports are renowned for their efficiency and this means that containers will keep progressing in and out of the ports as they were prior to this law going into effect. Since the law was implemented in November, we have seen no change to the volume of vessels or dwell times at Chinese ports.

While the Chinese data privacy law is an unfortunate challenge for international shippers — after all, any gap in visibility does hold the potential to exacerbate existing supply chain disruptions. Ultimately, though, we do believe that the law’s impacts will be limited, especially for customers working with a supply chain visibility provider that uses AIS data as just one piece of a multi-pronged strategy to provide end-to-end international shipment visibility.

FourKites will continue to monitor the reduction in tracking data in and out of Chinese ports and work closely with our AIS data partners to assess the long-term impacts of the law.

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