Egypt un-bans GPS
A few months ago a short article in the New York Times made a lot of noise about the ban on GPS technology in Egypt. The government argued that GPS is a military technology, which shouldn’t be used by civilians – what if someone decides to use GPS to locate a military base? Hence, any ...
A few months ago a short article in the New York Times made a lot of noise about the ban on GPS technology in Egypt. The government argued that GPS is a military technology, which shouldn't be used by civilians - what if someone decides to use GPS to locate a military base? Hence, any iPhones on sale in Egypt had their GPS disabled (this was the plan anyway).
The military excuse never made much sense to me. I am still not convinced that the main reason why extremists haven’t blown up yet another military base is a lack of GPS support for their iPhones. So I thought I’ll give it some thought and see what are some other uses that may be more threatening. I only could think of two social projects that relied on GPS, both of them discovered via MobileActive.
First was Transborder Immigrant Project that helps immigrants crossing the Mexican-US border to “locate resources such as water caches and safety beacons.” I am not sure about the legality of this project, but the creators called it “art” – so I guess they are safe. And the other project was Loadstone GPS; it provides a low-cost feature-rich navigational assistant for the blind.
Now, neither of those seemed like a threat to Egypt. Perhaps, it took the authorities a few months and a NYT piece to figure it out: a news report on Cellular News states that the government announced plans to loosen restrictions on the use of GPS in the country, allowing civilian use of the technology. The only two countries that still ban GPS are North Korea and Syria…
However, the NTRA will still need to authorise each type of GPS device imported into the country and will control any local manufacturing of the devices, it announced on its website at the weekend.
While GPS devices will be authorised for sale, the use of GPS for vehicle location services, as used in most mapping applications will still be tightly controlled by the regulator.
There were reports last year that Nokia was taking the government to court to try and over turn the ban on GPS enabled mobile phones being sold in the country.
Photo by 3dking/Flickr
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