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Apple Disables Egyptian iPhones' GPS

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the just-extrapolate-a-bit dept.

Communications 278

floydman writes "Apparently the Egyptian government is paranoid about its community using GPS devices, to the degree that it demanded Apple remove any GPS functionality from its iPhone 3G. They claim that 'GPS functionality should be limited to military purposes.' Egyptian blogger Ahmed Gabr brought this issue up in another article, and talks about how this does not make sense, since Google maps and the like can be used. I also happen to know for a fact that most of the modern cars in Egypt have built-in GPS systems."

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fr1st pst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046431)

fr1st pst

Re:fr1st pst (2, Funny)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046751)

I always thought that camels have built in GPS.

Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (5, Funny)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046465)

Can't they just look around and figure out which pyramids they are standing between and go from there?

Re:Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (1, Funny)

wafflze (1396293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046565)

To figure out which way is east? ewww ... too soon?

Re:Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (-1, Redundant)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046575)

Not according to the regime, who believe they are still living in a time where they're building the pyramids.

Re:Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (1, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046887)

Can't they just look around and figure out which pyramids they are standing between and go from there?

But they all look alike. This wouldn't be a problem if they had listened to my idea of bulding a square pyramid.

Re:Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046957)

Most of the pyramids are square (as opposed to say, rectangular or triangular).

Re:Why do Egyptians need GPS anyway? (5, Funny)

Keith_Beef (166050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047729)

Pyramid based triangulation...? No, that will never catch on.

K.

Egypt and iPhones (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046489)

I believe that it has nothing to do with GPS and everything to do with the fact that Muslims are closet faggots, and the religious right won't have it as possession and public display of an iPhone just screams, "Hey, look at me! Wow, look at you! Wanna have gay buttsex with me in the Burger King restroom? Maybe afterward we can stone a few girls for having premarital sex! A-Hjalalalu-AKhbar, god willing, my ass is sure sore today!"

The cognitive dissonance of an opressive religion which happens to call mostly closet-fags as its followers and believers must reign in the emerging flamboyance somehow. This also explains why vehicle GPS is tolerated while iPhag GPS is not. To Egypt's credit, though, they are among the most helpful of the Islamo-savage nations; at least from a Western standpoint.

Anonymous Coward (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046507)

Since Egypt is a poor country, claiming that most new cars have gps is ludicrous.

Re:Anonymous Coward (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046635)

Since Egypt is a poor country, claiming that most new cars have gps is ludicrous.

Non sequitur. There might be very few new cars, but most of that few might have GPS.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047011)

Most "might"? Let's just say that if the customers shop for cheaper cars, they also closely look at the price of the new cars, so nav systems, or systems like the (us only) 'on star' are not going to be popular, so a waste of money for manufacturers to install. Any no, new cars are definitely not the same globally...

Maybe you should travel more, longer, and/or farther, you'd have noticed that too.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

dafrazzman (1246706) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047039)

I think you're missing his point. The majority of people with major budget issues cannot afford cars. Hence, most of the people who can are not so financially limited, and thus go for the luxury cars.

Again, I don't know; I'm just clarifying his argument.

Re:Anonymous Coward (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047419)

Motre or less. Plus it's not uncommon for poor countries to have a very uneven weath distribution (yes Zimbabwe, I'm looking at you). Top of the range Mercedes with all the extras for the ruling clique, and nobody else can afford a car at all.

In that case 100% of new cars have GPS, climate control and gold-plated ashtrays.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047633)

Most "might"? Let's just say that if the customers shop for cheaper cars,

They might. But they might not.

Now you used the word "since", which implies a causal relationship between being a poor country and the proportion of new cars with GPS. Clearly, the causal link is by no means certain. Hence my use of "might", which seems to cause you some confusion. I'm not saying it definitely isn't the case, but one counter-example is enough that your conclusion doesn't necessarily follow from the premise. That's what "non sequitur" means.

Maybe you should travel more, longer, and/or farther, you'd have noticed that too.

So perhaps you should learn English comprehension (and logic) before lecturing other people what they need to do?

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047513)

The cost of a handheld GPS added to a car is next to nothing compared to the actual car - even a cheap 10 year old beater.

Re:Anonymous Coward (4, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046701)

You should visit a few poor countries and note the amount of GPS devices there. I mean even in India there more than just commonplace.

Even on many things you wouldn't consider "cars" you find gps devices these days.

There's strong correlation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046517)

There seems to be strong correlation between disdain I have for a regime or culture and the retardivity of statements and edicts they make.

Coincidence?

Re:There's strong correlation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046595)

Oh come on, that's retardive!

Swell plan (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046561)

In a country that consists to a good deal of desert and other not too pleasant terrain where getting lost means dying it's a really, really good idea to disallow tools that allow you to find out where exactly you are.

Is it me or is this already beyond stupid and paranoid? What "advantage" could a terrorist/communist/boogymanoftheweek gain from knowing where he is? I guess those people are

a) knowledgeable enough of the area to know where they are.
b) Usually not interested in blowing themselves sky high in the middle of nowhere and
c) Not too picky of where they strike, as long as it causes enough people to get terrorized (hence their description).

So I'm waiting for a really good explanation why a potentially life saving function should be turned of for "security" reasons. I know, "national security" means "whatever keeps the government in power" these days, but shouldn't we at least keep the pretence up that it's about keeping the people safe?

Re:Swell plan (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046627)

grab your iphone.. fire up urban spoon...

shake...

Choices are sand, sand, sand...

Hmmm.... I think we'll have sand today.

Re:Swell plan (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046699)

True, but let's imagine you have a car, a tank full of gas and are lost in the middle of some desert. You have enough fuel to reach anything within 100 miles but what is within 100 miles? More important, is there anything within 100 miles (hopefully you were clever enough to only use up to half your tank's contents...)?

But let's imagine your car broke down and you're in the middle of the desert. Let's also assume you were smart enough to bring along a sat phone for emergencies (like this one). What do you want to prefer to tell a potential rescue team? "I'm in the middle of the Sahara, try to find me" or "I'm at xxxx'N, xxxx'E, come pick me up"?

Re:Swell plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047103)

if you are in the middle of the desert, there is a good chance that you won't be able to use 3G GPS anyway so the situation is kind of moot from the iPhone's pov. But if you are talking about just regular satellite based GPS, indeed it could mean saving a life or two.

Re:Swell plan (2, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047225)

iPhone-style assisted GPS uses cell towers to help get a quicker fix but does not require anything besides the pure GPS signal from the satellites. It's just that the pure satellite signal will require ~30 seconds to get a fix instead of the 1 second you get when the cell network helps out.

Re:Swell plan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047525)

Except that there are no maps stored on the phone its self, and from what I've seen no way to access the raw GPS info.

So you'll have a blue GPS dot on top of a blank map.

Re:Swell plan (1, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047839)

It would take about ten seconds to write an iPhone app that gives access to the raw data, and indeed a trivial search of the App Store reveals many such apps already there, several of which are free.

Re:Swell plan (2, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047655)

True, but IIRC the location request on the iPhone Google Maps app times out long before a non-assisted GPS fix can be achieved.

And the point is moot anyway, until an application comes along with maps stored on the device, as opposed to being downloaded on the fly (the Google Maps app does cache its maps, but I wouldn't trust that caching with live-saving information).

Re:Swell plan (1, Informative)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047247)

When did iPhone 3G get to be a SAT phone? GPS may work 100 miles in the desert but you're not going to get any other usable signal... so you better hope you're still ambulatory and can get close enough to a cell tower to make that phone call.

Re:Swell plan (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047521)

Which is why "smart enough to bring a sat phone" was included...

Try reading next time.

Re:Swell plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047675)

I would assume that he also read the "(like this one)" line and, in the absence of any other phones referenced, took it to mean the iphone we're talking about. Which is not a sat phone.

Re:Swell plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047731)

Presumably, the "like this one" part referred to the preceding word, namely "emergencies", rather than to the phone.

Re:Swell plan (2, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046709)

I think the answer is armed kids in knock-off Versace.

Re:Swell plan (-1, Flamebait)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046803)

Other than, say the ability to drop a UAV bomb on government buildings or open markets from hundreds of kilometers away ?

Other than that GPS would pose no real danger, no.

And yes and iphone 3G would be a usable (though probably not ideal) controller for such a UAV or rocket. It certainly has got the processing power and the necessary outputs.

You could perhaps make it send a nice MMS of a few surprised faces seconds before impact.

GPS + terrorists = disaster. The only thing stopping these things is their ease-of-use somewhat lacking and the price, obviously. It's also unreasonable to expect to be able to down a UAV before it reaches it's target. Maybe the american "star wars" program could do it. Maybe (to be honest I doubt it). Most countries do not have the capability of even detecting the thing in-flight (and with the bomb light enough, flying close to buildings the us does not have that capability either).

Add to that, what are you going to do if it's flying low over a populated city ? Bomb it, making at least 50 victims on the ground due to the size of the explosion ... and you get to take credit for the steel plates sticking into their chest, it was your rocket blast that killed, not the terrorist's.

An iphone 3g (or any gps device, but iphone 3g is sturdy, cheap and available) controlling a low flying bomb would be a terrorist's dream weapon. There's just no good way to dispose of them. And there's no way of disposing of 50 or 100 of them simultaneously.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Kugala (1083127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046885)

This is why in the past decade we've seen such a massive influx of GPS guided terrorist UAVs?

Developing this sort of technology is not easy, nor foolproof. And UAVs aren't exactly something I can wander down the street and buy. They prefer to use the age old technology of brainwashed morons, that can find their way to targets on their own. They're cheap, effective, and available in large quantities.

Stop being paranoid.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047063)

Apparently you don't have a hobby store down the street.

There's been this whole hobby of building and flying UAVs that's been around since at least WWII.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Kugala (1083127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047435)

By UAV I'm not referring to the remote controlled toys you buy for a hobby.

In order to execute somthing like this, you're looking at a 50lb or greater lift capability, 200+ km range, a radar or other rangefinding capability, several cameras, inertial nav systems, an uplink capable of handling all this data and punching through urban clutter, limited self-guidance capabilities, stealth materials, and a pretty decent manuevering capability. Essentially, it's a medium range guided missile.

Or, like stated earlier, there's thousands of morons willing to drive a car full of explosives anywhere. If you place no value on human life this is the way to go.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046889)

In the example, the danger is the bomb, not the GPS. In terms of procurement, the difficult bit is getting hold of the bomb, not the GPS.

On a more serious note, how do they know that you're in Egypt in order to turn it off? Perhaps they use GPS...

Re:Swell plan (3, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046899)

Because of course any terrorist who's planning to build a GPS guided missile to blow up a market will suddenly change his mind and start growing flowers and raising puppies when he discovers that GPS receivers are banned by the government.

Re:Swell plan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047583)

Puppies are considered haram in Islam.

http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503547226

Maybe flowers are haram too. They do bring worldly pleasure, so it's probably a safe bet they're out as well.

Re:Swell plan (3, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046953)

"Other than, say the ability to drop a UAV bomb on government buildings or open markets from hundreds of kilometers away ?"

Please design and execute this plan, while delivering more destructive power than a suicide bomber with pockets full of hand grenades... or an RPG (for government buildings). Oh, and do that with the economics means and know-how of terrorists... and make sure no one knows about it.

There is a reason why UAVs are JUST getting into the fray in modern warfare. They are not EASY to build or guide. And even the most advanced UAVs, have a fairly limited payload... and we're talking about large craft, that cost hundreds of millions to design.

Finally, GPS is available to terrorists through a billion other sources. Apple's position here nothing more than a publicity stunt. Kind of reminds me of handgun bans.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047237)

Why an RPG for government buildings? Just use two suicide bombers. The first nukes himself at the checkpoint, the second goes in a few days later before the sniffing device can be replaced and does whatever was planned.

When there is a will, there is a way. And when someone is already willing to kill himself to kill you, there's a damn lot of will...

Re:Swell plan (4, Insightful)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046963)

Other than, say the ability to drop a UAV bomb on government buildings or open markets from hundreds of kilometers away ?

Meh it's cheaper to have a true believer strap explosives to himself and guide himself there. When you have that kind if resource at your disposal why would you pay for iphones and predator drones.

Re:Swell plan (2, Funny)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047035)

don't be ridiculous, iPhone can't send MMS!

Re:Swell plan (0, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047041)

You americans is hilarious, stop being so fucking scared.

Also why would someone who needed a GPS for a rocket buy a frickin' iPhone?

Also I don't get "should be limited to military purposes", don't they mean the opposite? I guess a GPS is ok as long as you don't attack anything?

Anyway, yeah right, this will for sure stop all terrorists from getting GPSs! And any chance of them firing rockets!

Re:Swell plan (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047145)

An iphone 3g (or any gps device, but iphone 3g is sturdy, cheap and available) controlling a low flying bomb would be a terrorist's dream weapon.

Or maybe they could import a couple of failed Xbox360s, these should be cheap and the fans in those would surely be powerful enough for an ICBM? Just solder in a couple of fan-less old AMD-chips to and let the fun begin.

Personally I'd take a canister filled of whatever flammable petroleum product, a piece of textile to use as fuse and a pair of shoes suitable for running ..
Add gravel/glass/.. to the container if you also want to hurt someone. Should work, no?

Re:Swell plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047187)

First, you don't need GPS for that. It's quite possible to track your UAV's location using other methods, especially if it's range is only a couple of kilometers. Hell, you could just fly the thing by remote control. Strap a video phone to the front, and use the mobile phone network to stream the video. Maybe add another phone to act as a telemetry and control uplink.

The Germans managed to hit London from France with something that's effectively a UAV, using a simple mechanical guidance system, back in the 1940s. No GPS available then.

Second, there's nothing special about an iPhone that'd make it ideal for this kind of thing. GPS receivers are easy to get hold of, either using Bluetooth or USB connections, and you can use them with pretty much any small computer. If you're clever enough to build the rest of the UAV, hooking up a GPS module to the control system isn't going to be that hard. Or expensive - GPS modules are fairly cheap these days.

Besides, why would a terrorist pay any attention to the Egyptian government banning GPS devices?

From the point of view of an actual terrorist, simply dropping the bomb off somewhere (or having someone else do it) is far simpler and more effective.

Re:Swell plan (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047745)

The Germans managed to hit London from France with something that's effectively a UAV, using a simple mechanical guidance system, back in the 1940s.

true, but it wasn't like they fired one and one hit.

Re:Swell plan (1)

parabyte (61793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047721)

Yeah, sure, those terrorists capable of turning an iPhone into a cruise missile will be stopped in their tracks by this measure. The would never dare to smuggle in an iPhone *with* GPS, and would never get the idea to buy a $20 GPS module for this purpose.

No, your scenario is complete nonsense. There are much simpler and cheaper solutions when you want an programmable embedded GPS system.

However, what you can do with an "off the shelve" iPhone is to it use as tactical computer to coordinate the movement of you strike teams in real time. And with the iTerrorize-Plugin from the AppStore every iPhone-owner can sign up for a suicide mission on behalf of any organization. He just needs to bring his own weapons and explosives.

Seriously, a society that fails to provide a meaningful life in dignity for too many talented people will eventually get in serious trouble. You want the talented people to work for the establishment, not against it.

Restricting and regulating the use of some technology does make sense, but isolating your society from progressive and wide-spread technology used by the rest of the world will weaken your economy and make your country an easy prey for your neighbors in the long run. I don't believe that restricting the use of GPS in today's world can have any positive effect.

p.

The threat of terrorism in Egypt is very real. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046897)

Your use of "terrorist/communist/boogymanoftheweek" illustrates your ignorance of Egyptian political issues. Currently there are many extreme, islamic fundamentalists in Egypt that would like nothing more than to destroy large signs of western influence, like the resorts (already bombed), large hotels or the City Stars mall. Why do you think they rigorously check for bombs *every single car* that drives into some of these places?

To put this as politely as possible, some people need to get their liberal heads out of their asses and realize that the danger of terrorism is very real in some countries, and protection is absolutely required.

Re:The threat of terrorism in Egypt is very real. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047319)

You had a simple point about the somewhat unique Egyptian situation, but you capped it off with an insult. Don't do that if you want anyone to actually be influenced by your comments. Otherwise you're a mildly rounded troll, but a troll none the less.

Don't forget... (1)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046985)

This CLEARLY means that since they removed the GPS functionality from the Iphone that no terrorist will have ANY access to a GPS. It's foolproof! After all... any GPS system can be used to... umm... well, it makes bombs go where you want and stuff! TERRORISTS ARE BAD!!!!111!

Re:Don't forget... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047265)

it makes bombs go where you want and stuff!

So do suicide bombers. So, for the sake of humanity, outlaw humans!

Re:Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047333)

I'm not sure if you're incredibly ignorant, or being sarcastic, but in case you don't realize, some terrorist groups don't believe in suicide bombing.

Re:Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047631)

That is why I support SkyNet. Humans are the worst threat to Planet's security.

Re:Don't forget... (1)

stocke2 (600251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047613)

They should just bad suicide bombers, and go ahead and make terrorists illegal too. Obviously making things illegal makes them go away so if you outlaw being bad everyone will be good.

Re:Swell plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047133)

So I'm waiting for a really good explanation why a potentially life saving function should be turned of for "security" reasons. I know, "national security" means "whatever keeps the government in power" these days, but shouldn't we at least keep the pretence up that it's about keeping the people safe?

I think there's a parallel to guns here.

Re:Swell plan (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047149)

They don't fear terrorists, they fear rioters.

GPS and GSM is the first thing countries like China cut off when a riot occur.

Re:Swell plan (2, Interesting)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047297)

I don't really know the actual explanation, and I certainly don't discount sheer stupidity when it comes to the actions of the Egyptian government, but I suspect it has something to do with those vast deserts you mention. I think there's a fair amount of cross-border smuggling of weapons/contraband at the Libyan and Sudanese borders, and a cheap/portable GPS device like the iPhone 3G could give smugglers a huge technology advantage (or eliminate a disadvantage) relative to the border patrols.

Of course, smugglers should be able to get their hands on iPhones regardless of a ban, but it may have to do with how easy it is to get your hands on one.

Re:Swell plan (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047785)

Maybe the simplest of looters could find the coordinates of valuable archeological digs. Before GPS and Google maps, they would have needed maps, survey equipment and access to the journals. Now they could just surf the web and find the coordinates from a research paper.

Location, location, location... (3, Interesting)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046597)

Is this really about wanting to keep citizens from knowing where they are, or is it more about not wanting to have a programmable GPS-enabled device that could be used to detonate a bomb when it nears a specified location?

If the above is the case, it's a pretty dumb approach, since a GPS-enabled iPhone could just be smuggled in. Either way, it would be interesting to know what the real motives behind this ban are.

Re:Location, location, location... (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046653)

That sound like a more logic reason, but bluntly, it's not like building a GPS device is in any way rocket science or requires any kind of "monitored" hardware. Actually, the iPhone would be a rather poor choice for such a device, not only for its price. And it makes little sense to build such a bomb in the first place unless you plan to send it through FedEx or postal service.

Re:Location, location, location... (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047215)

There are other options. The comparison with car GPS is interesting - ok, they don't mind people navigating and mapping roads, since they are public anyway. But small GPS devices that look like mobile phones - could these be more of a security risk? It is possible to walk to many more locations than can be reached on the public highway. It is possible that they could be used as trigger devices, just like in the Madrid train bombings [wikipedia.org] . Consider that the phones are used as timers, and that one of the standard protocols in use in security sensitive areas now is to jam RF and cell phone frequencies to block this kind of trigger. It's not a huge leap to realise that a GPS device could be similarly linked, and would provide an accurate non-blockable trigger for a vehicle based bomb.

It sounds as though Egypt bans or disables all personal GPS devices. I guess it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that a government is concerned about the military implications - remember that the United States only turned off Selective Availability [wikipedia.org] 8 years ago, and this was only after they developed new technology to actively jam GPS signals in targetted regions. And don't forget the political fallout [allacademic.com] after the EU decided to implement the Galileo M-code overlay [findarticles.com] inside the same frequency band as the US military GPS in order to ensure that there was no way to block one without blocking the other. GPS technology has traditionally been militarily and politically sensitive, but at the same time we are now seeing the rise of a new world where most human are going to have cell phones and GPS devices. This is inevitably going to cause some social conflict as societies adjust to the new reality.

Re:Location, location, location... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046677)

It's far easier to do that with nokia phones that are plentiful and easy to hack or [GASP] a easy to get and ready to hack GPS, than a freaking iphone.

It's called very uneducated diplomats and "leaders" freaking out over nothing.

Re:Location, location, location... (2, Informative)

imroy (755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046935)

  • GPS module [sparkfun.com] - US$60
  • Microcontroller board [sparkfun.com] - US$20
  • Coding - free
  • A GPS bomb trigger for a fraction of the price of an iPhone? priceless

Note, I'm not affiliated with SparkFun in any way. I'm also not condoning terrorist action, just pointing out how easy it is nowadays with cheap and easy access to the necessary technology.

Re:Location, location, location... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047069)

Generally, the motivation beyond oddball security decisions is to appear to be doing something.

I don't get it (2, Interesting)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046609)

Wouldn't most governments generally prefer that their citizens be trackable? I can't imagine the Egyptian government is somehow a beacon of light in the world of internal spying, so what gives?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047043)

Well, you see, the tracking already done by the phone itself is enough to let the government keep tabs on you to within a couple hundred yards, keeping it to within a few feet would just make their police force lazy.

Re:I don't get it (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047867)

You do understand that GPS can't track you right? You just use a fancy little satellite reciever to triangulate your location here on planet earth by what GPS satellites your device can "hear" at any given moment. It is a one way deal, it doesn't broadcast.

I mean really, the only "tracking" done by GPS is if said GPS enabled device has a secondary connection in it to relay that information back somewhere. In the case of the iPhone, yes, it can send GPS data back to the world somewhere via its cellular connection. But that certainly seems to be a stupid way to go about tracking people. I mean really, if people are carrying devices that actually transmit signals, you know, like cell phones, it is FAR more effective to just use their broadcasted signal to triangulate on them rather than hoping they purchase a GPS device with the capabilities of sending data somewhere. I mean really...who wants to have to worry about hacking all of those GPS enabled devices to steal their GPS positioning data when you can just find them based on their radio transmissions from the cellular piece.

Military Use (2, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046621)

Do they understand that GPS is currently intended for civilian use? The United States, being the owner of the system, can shut it off at any time. One of the primary reasons they will shut it off is in the case of foreign military use.

Re:Military Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046777)

While it is nice to think that GPS is for civilian use, it is really still for military use. The US government just agrees that there is so much civilian use to go along with it that the government agreed not to turn it off to civilians.

While it is still possible to turn it off, they would be hard pressed to do it.

Re:Military Use (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046905)

Which is why there is also other existing or proposed GNSS

        Beidou
        Galileo
        GLONASS
        IRNSS
        QZSS

So the USA cannot "just shut it off" .....

Re:Military Use (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047369)

Sure they can [wikipedia.org]

Re:Military Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047701)

GPS is the only fully functunal GNSS in the world.

E911 (0)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046641)

Umm..Too lazy to RTFA, but the whole reason why cell phones have GPS is so that emergency services can find you with more to go on than "um..I'm by some trees, there's a kinda funny looking rock next to me..." I wouldn't consider that a military application...

how about this (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046643)

how about population control they go into the desert and get lost they don't want them back.

More than GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26046647)

More than just GPS, Egypt is famous for disabling most human rights for its citizens.

They're afraid of something (2, Funny)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046657)

and they're afraid to say what it is that they're afraid of.

Interesting.

I'm sure it has something to do with the Pyramids and geo-caching. :)

I can see their point (1, Insightful)

tatman (1076111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046731)

I'm not saying their point is right, but I can see where they are coming from.

Cell phones have been used for years to remote denote bombs. With the iPhone you easily have a programable bomb denotonator.

Imagine this: Code the iPhone to check GPS coordinates. Then hook up it to the bomb with a while continuiously checking GPS coordinates and then either denotes the bomb at specific coordinates or informs "someone of interest" that the bomb has made it to specific location.

Sounds rather powerful detonator imo. I'll admit I know little about iPhone programming. One has to admit that sounds like a very plausible use case.

Re:I can see their point (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047077)

Lets ban all GPS enabled cell phones then because there might be a small threat in making a bomb unlike any other device because you know, its impossible to make a bomb without a cell phone. "Those who compromise liberty for a little security deserve neither security or liberty" - Ben Franklin

Re:I can see their point (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047131)

Sorry for self-replying, but I forgot to add that we should ban all electronics because they can be used to make a bomb

Re:I can see their point (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047235)

I didn't say ban anything. I was just offering an idea to think about in hopes of generating knowledgeable understanding. Understanding a point of view helps to find rational solutions.

Re:I can see their point (1)

stocke2 (600251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047695)

first of all, the same would be true for basically any GPS cell phone. Secondly, banning it will only stop law abiding citizens.... are they afraid of the law abiding citizens or terrorists, I assure you the terrorist does not care about the ban.

Re:I can see their point (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047241)

Like a depth charge but instead of pressure based it is GPS based. Isn't there a driving instruction program for the iphone?

So people are afraid of this: Turn right, go straight for 2 miles, the turn left, etc. Then Ding! you have arrived at your destination. Have a nice day. Boom!

 

It IS nice to know... (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046757)

...that the U.S. government "leaders" don't have an exclusive on dunder-headed confusion about technology and what it can and can not do. Yes, I know, it's hardly fair to compare TFA's example to esoteric concepts like why internet censorship will always fail or why 20th century copyright law is so badly broken, but you get the idea.

Hey! Maybe ex-Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) can go work as a consultant to the Egyptian Government (when he gets out of the joint, that is). He's got a knack for simplifying those hi-tech concepts.

Interesting (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046919)

Given that OpenStreetMap Cairo [openstreetmap.org] looks pretty complete I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of GPS devices already out there.

It's interesting to watch the trickle down effect of technology and grassroots efforts to harness it, coming fact to face with traditional government regulation, such as amateur cartography being illegal in Russia [lwn.net] . I guess personal GPS devices and the internet are pretty subversive.

Wankers (0)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046941)

It's funny to see government PHAIL in relation to technology issues. The UK government basically ignored teh internets until it snuck up and surprise buttsecksed them. They're still very much in the WTF!?! stage right now. I have to wonder whether Machiavelli would have been so clueless.

GPS System (0, Troll)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046955)

Just like TCP/IP Protocol.

What about tourists? (1, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26046987)

I was on vacation in Sharm el-Sheikh last April, and wandered around like a stupid tourist with a Bluetooth GPS and a Nokia N800 around my neck. Nobody seemed to care. We even went through a military checkpoint.

Um, was I doing something illegal?

Re:What about tourists? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047477)

Only if you didn't spend a couple of grand in hard currency and you gave material support to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sharm el-Sheikh is the Sun City of Egypt.

DRM (1, Interesting)

the 9a3eedi (1068628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047025)

Why is this story tagged DRM o_O Disabling a feature for a specific country isn't considered to be DRM, right?

Re:DRM (4, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047317)

Any software or hardware creating an artificial limitation on what your hardware can technically do, locking the user out, could conceivably constitute DRM--it's not just about copyrights, it can also be about limiting the "right to tinker." The article says "disable" GPS, not "remove the hardware entirely" which would presumably be a much more expensive demand. Consequently, Apple is probably being asked to make the iPhone defective by design, arbitrarily disabling its inbuilt features.

Er, even more so than they already do.

(FWIW to the Apple fanboys who want to mod this down, my wife has an iPhone and she loves it. I personally avoid carrying a cell phone whenever possible, and have nothing against the iPhone in particular. Just answering a question here...)

Re:DRM (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047425)

It's a story about Apple and the iPhone, so it MUST be about their evil draconian DRM schemes. Duh.

Re:DRM (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047599)

Why is this story tagged DRM o_O Disabling a feature for a specific country isn't considered to be DRM, right?

Because the DRM features on the iPhone allows Apple to do this remotely. As in, if you take your phone into the country, when it connects with a local cell tower, the tower automatically turns off your GPS capability.

Or to put it another way, in the name of DRM Apple has a backdoor into every iPhone that can be used to do, well, pretty much whatever they want (or a hacker wants) with your phone.

My only explanaintion (2, Interesting)

floydman (179924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047227)

Is that this is due to "leadership minds'" ignorance of the current state of technology. Someone thinks that by doing this, he has acclaimed a certain power to himself only (the government) in this case.

Is he is totally unaware, that most phones (HTC, I-mate, some nokia's) have GPS's in them, and if not, it didn't cross his mind that a simple wifi connection (quiet common in cairo, lived there for a couple of years) would be more than enough to act as a GPS look alike.

Dinosaurs in control if you ask me.

Someone mentioned above that he was walking around with a bluetooth GPS device, well you are not the only one, I was for a couple of years, a lot of other people I know also did.

The question is, how come Apple obliged...thats what does not make a lot of sense to me.

Evil? (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047295)

So where's the outrage at Apple for caving to a foreign, repressive government's wishes to hinder the freedom of the country's citizens? I guess they never claimed they'd do no evil. Pretty lame though.

Re:Evil? (2, Insightful)

stocke2 (600251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047735)

maybe Apple caved because they want to sell iphones there?

Typical Muslim nation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047355)

Afraid of everyone and everything because the government has to try and keep everyone in the dark ages.

I know what happened (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047777)

They saw this advert [youtube.com] .

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