On 3 September, the New York Times reported that shipping data researchers have identified hundreds of cases where a ship has transmitted fake location coordinates in order to carry out murky and even illegal business operations and circumvent international laws and sanctions. AIS manipulation, tampering this way with satellite location trackers carried by large ships is illegal under international law, and until recently, most fleets are believed to have largely followed the rules. The vessels use a technology that, in essence, replicates the effect of a VPN cellphone app, making a ship appear to be in one place, while physically being elsewhere. Its use has included Chinese fishing fleets hiding operations in protected waters off South America, tankers concealing stops in Iranian oil ports, and container ships obfuscating journeys in the Middle East.
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