AIS data on the web a security risk

Due to concerns expressed by members, INTERTANKO led the initiative with its Round Table partners (ICS, BIMCO, INTERCARGO) on the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) issue, and coordinated a submission to MSC 79 (click here to download a copy of MSC 79-5-10) voicing its serious concern at the creation of web site such as www.aislive.com.

The submission generated a lot of support at the IMO Maritime Security Working Group. However, as the existence of web sites such as this is a legal activity, it found it difficult to identify what could be done to restrict the ongoing use of AIS data in this way on the world wide web.

It was agreed, however, that the use of AIS data in such a manner by third parties did undermine the security of ships and port facilities and that those making such data available on the web were undermining and compromising the efforts of the Organization to enhance the safety of navigation and security and also jeopardising the further development of the AIS. Accordingly the group recommended that the MSC should agree:

  1. that the publication of such data on the world wide web or elsewhere is detrimental to the safety and security of ships and port facilities and that those making such data available on the web are undermining and compromising the efforts of the organisation to enhance the safety of navigation and security in the international transport sector;
  2. to urge masters of ships, notwithstanding guidelines for the onboard operational use of AIS adopted by the organisation by resolution A.917(22) as amended by resolution A.965(23), "not" to switch off the ships’ AIS on account of the publication on the world wide web or elsewhere of the AIS data transmitted by their ships;
  3. to urge member governments, subject to the provisions of their national laws, to discourage those who make available AIS data to others for publication on the world wide web or elsewhere from doing so;
  4. to condemn the regrettable publication on the world wide web or elsewhere of AIS data transmitted by ships;
  5. to condemn those who irresponsibly publish the AIS data transmitted by ships on the world wide web or elsewhere, particularly if these offer services to the shipping and port industries; and
  6. to request the Secretary General to bring to the attention of those who publish or who may publish AIS data transmitted by ships on the world wide web or elsewhere the conclusions of the Committee.

Contact: Howard Snaith