US Government wants to control Google Maps, Waze and other map apps

by: William Neilson JrJune 16, 2014

rubber stamp marked with regulation BodyWorkBiz

The New York Times recently wrote an article detailing the US governments interest in entering the world of smartphone apps involving navigation.

Specifically, the Transportation Department wants Congress to give them ‘explicit authority to regulate navigation aids of all types, including apps on smartphones.” Included in the Obama administration’s proposed transportation bill, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would have the authority to set restrictions on the apps and later order changes if they are deemed dangerous.

Automakers are in support of the new rules but that likely comes from the fact that they want drivers to use the car manufacturers navigation equipment. On the other hand, tech companies are against it due to their belief that the government would then have the authority to review apps and order changes before they are put on the market.

ag_09wrx_nav Cars.About

Can the government really stay in-step with tech companies pushing out these new navigation apps?

“They don’t have enough software engineers. They don’t have the budget or the structure to oversee both Silicon Valley and the auto industry.” – Catherine McCullough,executive director of the Intelligent Car Coalition

Last year, the Transportation Department released voluntary guidelines for automakers stipulating that any navigation system should not take more than two seconds for a single interaction, and 12 seconds total. At 60 miles an hour, two seconds is 172 feet.

As ITWorld states:

The next time Google-owned Waze decides to add a new feature to its app, the U.S. government–not users–may decide whether the feature is worth keeping. 

For the government’s part, they claim they don’t plan on using their regulatory authority to make changes unless special circumstances call for it. That said, what they say they plan to do and what actually is done could end up being two different things.

What do you think of the idea, should the U.S. have the right to make changes to navigation apps in the name of public safety?

  • Carlos Lopez

    The US gov needs to stop trying to control everything

    • MasterMuffin

      They’re just trying to share the freedom and democracy…

      … by forcing others to do exactly as they want

    • John Grabb

      Why and let Google control everything, which they ARE attempting? No thanks!

      • Azeem

        I wouldn’t mind Google controlling everything.

        • moe fuggz

          Google for president!

      • Carlos Lopez

        I’d prefer Google Instead of the government

        • Arturo Raygoza

          I prefer none

        • tooshea

          Guess again Carlos. Schmit the owner of Google visited the White House over 25 times personally with the president, so of course nothing could be going on there. Google is the govt & the govt is Google. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is how that relationship works,

          • Gordon R. Stanley

            nudge nudge wink wink

      • fredphoesh

        the HUGE difference is that google is giving you very useful and fantastic tools, the cunts in Washington want to control it and YOU. You do not HAVE to use google products, but you may HAVE to do what the facist fuckers in washington say you must.

        • Gordon R. Stanley

          Sad but true.

    • Guest123

      too late

    • asd

      There was probably a bribery of some sort involved

    • Jayfeather787

      Indeed. Get me out of here!!!!!

    • Michael Samsara

      If you want to guarantee that something will get screwed up – involve the government.

      I. E. the U.S. Postal system, Obamacare, VA Hospitals, use of the IRS to go after Obama’s political enemies, etc, etc., etc. ad nauseum.

      This is what happens when you have organizations and the people who man/woman them who have no accountability – despite protestations to the contrary about how “We are going to hold those responsible accountable.” by Obama – ad nauseum.

      What we will end up with is one more nail driven into the coffin of Capitalism; one more wrench thrown into the engine of economics; deliberately, calculatedly and purposefully so – by the left wing radical jihadists who never saw an opportunity to thwart individual initiative and suggest we need to be looked after and taken care of by big brother they didn’t want to exploit.

      Time for November elections and 2016 to arrive as soon as possible – time for “Change we can count on” – for real – not just silver tongued oratory and lip service offered up by an incompetent with his own agenda for all of us – as well as the world at large.

      • Gordon R. Stanley

        Amen, not truer statement expounded. I say vote them all out. I could be done.

  • Yeah, they should have the right to regulate what you are using while you are driving on the road. And yes, it changes if the passenger is using it rather than the driver, just like if the passenger is talking on the phone, no one will give you a ticket. Fiddling with apps – ANY app, but especially maps apps – WHILE in motion can be dangerous to oneself and other drivers on the road. If you need directions and your system isn’t already on or cannot be activated by voice, pull over and start navigation, put it on dash and drive.

    • Guess we should let them regulate all radios out of cars as well…because that takes much more work and is more distracting than most of the apps and nav devices. I’ll agree it is dangerous but I’m not keen on the reasoning behind their control.

      Now saying that – yes I do believe there needs to be some regulation. Just look at how inaccurate some of these apps have been (cough Apple Maps – – cough cough). They should push for more reliability and accuracy, quicker updates and better direction giving, but not to the point they need ‘total’ control!

      • The difference between most car radios and phones is that on the phone, you have to look at the screen, thus taking your eyes off the road. With most radios, you can pretty much use the buttons from finger memory, without having to take your eyes off the road. But yes, to the extent that modern luxury cars make radios a touch screen experience requiring taking your eyes off the road, the DoT should be able to regulate those as well.

        As for “total” control, no one is talking about that (except for this AA headline). They are asking for authority to regulate the use of apps and devices while in motion. Technology companies should welcome reasonable safety regulations, not only because it’s good for safe driving (how long do you think it will take for our fledgling public sentiment to turn on Google if the media decides to report several big car/truck accidents and link them through the use of Maps?) but also because it gives them an opportunity to come up with a technological solution.

        Take the Moto X, for example and its always listening feature, which Google is now looking to adopt into mainline Android. It could eliminate the need to look at the screen to activate nav at all, thus solving the issue.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          With everything our govt is guilty of doing why in the world is this a good idea? Hell its not necessary!

          • Safety advocates say it is necessary. And we’re having the discussion about one issue and one issue only. Sorry but I don’t buy into the anti-government paranoia too many in the tech community seem to be suffering from.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            “Those who give up liberty in exchange for temporary safety deserve neither.”

          • Oh. My. God. Alright, you win. Let’s get rid of seatbelts, airbags, and traffic lights – all pesky government regulations that supposedly interfere with our “liberty” to kill each other and die on the road. Unless you *are* actually for *some* regulations and have a hypocritical habit of using that quote to attack people whose idea of safety regulations you disagree with.

            And by the way, please fix your quote. The quote actually goes, “They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Driving is not an essential liberty, nor a constitutional right. If you disagree, please find the part of the US Constitution that enumerates the right to drive.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      I’m sorry but they don’t have that right. They can cite u for using a cell while driving but no way in hell do they have the right to dictate what shows up on my cells screen or not.

      • Lol, you just admitted that they do by saying they can cite you for using a cell. “Using a cell” – i.e. making a call or sending a text obviously involves a particular thing that shows up on your cell’s screen. The point of the regulation here is to keep drivers from fiddling with another screen when our eyes should be on the road. You can do whatever you want with your screen; you just can’t do it while driving. Just like you can drink as much as you wish whenever you wish, you just can’t drive drunk.

        Driving is not a right. It’s a privilege. If you disagree with the regulations on driving, you do not have to drive.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          No, the handsfree law allows them to cite you for having a phone on your hand regardless is its even on. Weather you are talking texting or watching YouTube, its the physical action not what’s on the display.

          The point of this regulation is to edit maps at will and erase places the state doesn’t want you to go to supposedly for your safety.

          • Oh, I see. So the government has the right to dictate *HOW* you interact with your phone, but not what’s on the screen in front of the driver. Yes, let’s all watch YouTube while we drive. What could possibly go wrong?

            No, the point of this regulation is not to edit maps. That’s just dumb. The point of it is to do exactly what you think they have the right to do, make the interaction not take the driver’s eyes off the road. It’s about *how* you drive, not where you drive to. They are not seeking the power to edit map data, only the power to regulate the software’s interactions.

            Remember that car manufacturers already agreed to it – the ones with in-car nav systems. The government cannot regulate the phone’s maps in any way other than it does the in-car nav systems (require voice input, for example), because that WOULD be unconstitutional. No, not because you have a right to have a navigation system, but treating the two differently would violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

          • Zack Omcikus

            Let me point out one thing that should be glaringly obvoius to everyone. The government should not have the ability to regulate what could be dangerous to the people, only what is definately dangerous. For example, they regulate crack more than they regulate tobacco. Why? because crack will definately be detrimental to the end user where tobacco may give you lung cancer, but maybe not. Just an example, not a great one but you can think of others.
            Along these same lines, the government should not be able to regulate apps because there is the posibility of people using them while driving. That is the persons choice and that choice should be regulated, not the app itself. I have used my navigation software in the comfort of my home to see how long it will take me to get to the beach. I do not need to interact with it in the car if I choose not to. If I do choose to, a police officer has the right to pull me over and give me a citation because that action is definately dangerous.

          • No, the government is not regulating apps because of the “possibility” of use while driving – they are regulating the apps behavior WHILE the user is driving. It is only in that context that the app is being regulated.

            For what it’s worth, I think we can agree that in an ideal world, it would be a better idea if the government just regulated the driver’s behavior (e.g. you cannot use an app that doesn’t allow for hands-free activation and interaction) rather than the app itself. But often, that’s much harder to enforce than regulating an app. It’s almost like saying while driving, you must wear a seatbelt but not requiring car manufacturers to actually have seatbelts!

            And we are not talking about individual safety here. When it comes to your own body and health, you can do whatever the hell you want. We are talking about public safety, which the government *should* regulate. You can smoke all you want while in your house, but municipalities often ban smoking in public places because I shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of your smoking.

            Similarly, the government can, should, and does regulate road safety. It’s not about the possibility of you hurting yourself, it is about the possibility and likelihood of you hurting the rest of us with reckless driving. Public safety is almost entirely about preventing the likelihood of harm. If you drive through an intersection on a red light, it’s entirely possible that you won’t hit the pedestrian crossing. But you get a ticket because of the likelihood that you would if you run a red light.

          • Zack Omcikus

            Okay, I can definitely understand your argument on the grounds of public safety. Unfortunately the government cannot and should not regulate any market, including the app market, on those grounds. I would wager eating a sandwich while driving is just as dangerous as using your phone and people do that often . If the government were to go to every food store and say you have to make wraps if you make sandwiches for that reason, even you I am sure would say that is ridiculous. The fact is that you can endanger people in so many ways it is impossible for the government to regulate every way and if it did… You know where I am going with this. There has to be a line over which regulation has to stop, and not being a dumbasss has to take over. Seatbelts may be required but I believe that is a common sense regulation. Forcing app maker’s hand in making them alter their app because people may use it while driving… That falls in the realm of don’t be a dumbass.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          I apologize and don’t want this argument going any further. I now see the errors of my ways. You seem to know a lot about the constitution and law so I kinda figured you knew about the tenth amendment but I’m sure you would weasel out another excuse.

          In the days that driving began, only the rich and privileged could afford a vehicle before ford and therefore “driving was a privelage” cause only the the privileged could afford it. But now driving has become such a necessity in life that it should be a right, I know I know you are just going to cry that it ain’t and should be regulated and I agree, like all other rights are regulated.

          But what is it that you think the government can do to Google maps exactly with this new power? What good can come from it? I mean show me how giving them this power will “save lives”? What more can they do other than ask you if you are driving at opening the app? That isn’t going to keep anyone from using it while driving. Or do you want Orwellian control like using a finger print scanner to log into gmaps and logging into your smart car to see if you are driving then shutting down the app?

          Would that make you feel safe? Speaking of that it brings me to my next point. Why in the hell are we arguing about this anyways? the writing is already on the wall and those of us who can see it already know. Mark my words , in the future we won’t even be allowed to drive ourselfs. We will all have to have driverless cars. At first it will start by getting a super cheap insurance rate if you own a driverless car. If you have one you will probably get other perks like faster speed limits etc. Hollywood will be tasked with making them look cool and program the next generation into wanting it with sex appeal. The perks will entice people to install conversion kits and shortly after government will demand all new cars to be driverless. All in the name of safety, and people like you will be there the entire way begging for our ” privelages” to be taken away all in the name of safety.

          Goodnight sir, no need to reply and argue any further for one day you will get your wish.

          • You have already admitted that the federal government can regulate driving behavior – and they can in the interstates. That authority is explicitly vested in Congress in the commerce clause, and since the interstate highways are instruments of interstate commerce. So even for a tenther argument, their authority stands.

            In the legas sense, ‘privilege’ does not mean something available to only a few. It means something you don’t have a right to do. Legally, something commonplace can be a privilege and something rare can be a right. For example, the Supreme Court recently said that money is speech, and therefore the ability to give politically in huge unlimited sums is a right, even though only the few and the privileged can afford to do so. On the other hand, driving is a privilege even though nearly everyone does it.

            As for the specifics, I suggest you read the actual bill. I have. They have asked for authority to be able to regulate safety functions of the software, not mapping data. Since mapping data is not part of the software itself – the software merely reads the data – there is no authority to regulate the mapping data.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            Like I said goodnight.

  • fran farrell

    Sounds like a third world country. Where is it written that the department of political pork has to protect anyone but politicians.

  • John Grabb

    Good I am glad they are. I have more faith in the US gov’t than something like Google for instance

    • Joshua Aniobi

      The US Govt is attempting to act outside of it’s scope. As if politicians would know how to maintain and further develop a navigation app, let alone anything in the smartphone/tablet space. Please US Govt, stay out of affairs you don’t understand.

      • David Rutla

        Pay no mind to the mind slave of the government. Think like this when viewing his post. Any dumb dog will do as its master commands without second thought. Dog of the Goverment John Grabb

      • Arturo Raygoza

        They do understand, they just want more control

    • Arturo Raygoza

      What has the us govt done to earn your blind faith?

  • Mark In Atlanta

    Considering that Google Maps Navigation told me to turn the wrong way onto a 5 lane one way street in downtown Atlanta yesterday, I think some public oversight might be warranted. Glad I saw the wall of buses before I completed the turn.

    • Tom Z

      There is public oversight already. Report the problem to Google Maps when you stop.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      You really need big brother to tell you all those buses in your direction isnt safe?

    • Marius Rye

      Never had any problems with gmaps

    • Cicerone

      Take a printed map. Better!
      You know that every single one nav apps (including car integrated) are toping some errors.
      And you are awarned about it on opening the app (especialy on car nav).

    • Gordon R. Stanley

      Use Waze your friendly commuter would have shown you the way not the burocrats in DC that has never been nor will ever be where you are.

  • Brian D.

    Lame delusional article with no basis in facts… Only conspiracy theories on how the evil government wants to regulate certain tech. unfortunately, the comments also include a bunch of paranoid delusional messages from frightened kids.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      Good job, if you insult everybody this way then we can all argue with each other instead of getting organized against this bill.

      • Brian D.

        Nope just paranoid delusional types that accept what they read in a blog over actually reading the bill.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          So we accept all the hundreds of posts by AA except when they post a semi critical article about government overreach?? Lol I agree with you though, let’s give this government the power to edit maps, its not like they have neferious reasons.

          • Michael Samsara

            Until they do.

        • Guest123

          If you are NOT a paranoid delusional type by now, then you are a naive delusional idiot.

  • sy

    Land of the free my ass.

    • smokebomb

      Land of the thief, home of the slave.

      • Gordon R. Stanley

        True, sure feels like it

  • chris

    The problem now is that people spend all their time staring at a tom tom of some sort rather than using that thing called vision and common sense. Case in point @ mark in Atlanta.

    I was also a passenger and watched how we happily went past our turn because, the iPhone said so. Twice. Jesus wept!

    You can at least be sure that if the government wants control then its never going to be for a good thing, otherwise they would leave it to self regulation by independent bodies and the app makers

    • Arturo Raygoza

      You really need big brother to tell you all those buses in your direction isnt safe? God…

    • Gordon R. Stanley

      State rule, to much Federal over reach.

  • Arturo Raygoza

    I rather keep my freedom than their promise of security which will only be censorship.

  • Marius Rye

    Hope the big silicon valley companies like Google move out of US soon to Europe. All hope seems lost in the US.

  • Marius Rye

    Go Nokia maps

  • Cicerone

    I’m not from US. I don’t need US govt. involved in. Google and rest are global companies.

  • KB

    I am not completely opposed to the idea of the DOT having some regulatory requirements. But I would be more comfortable if they gave an example why they need to interfere on an app by app basis. Last week I wanted to find a Starbucks on my way, it was an unfamiliar place. But my passenger looked it up for me. If I was alone I would obviously either pull over in a safe place, or just look for it after I left my meeting.
    Something like the waze app asking if you are a passenger when in motion seems like a reasonable restriction. I am confused about what else is needed. Do they intend to not allow my passenger to look for places while I am driving? Do they really need this much authority to make basic requirements for safety? If the idiot driver confirmed they are a passenger to the app could this be recorded in case of an accident for proof of willful negligence?
    Soo many questions that would be great to have some information about. Yet this article has nothing that would be important.

  • Arturo Raygoza

    The point of the hands free law is to cite you even if the phone is off as long as its in your hand. The point of this regulation is to erase roads to “dangerous” places regardless if you are using it while driving. They don’t have that right.

  • smokebomb

    The only thing the government needs to do in regards to technology is protect net neutrality. Anything else tech related they’d never be able to keep up with.

    • Sam Ackerman

      Well they failed at that . . . . . .

  • Outtanames999

    Dude your link in the story to the government guidelines is a 404

  • Gordon R. Stanley

    too much government overreach there’s been a lot of that lately. Pen in hand, he should have been a writer not the President. If only .gov would stick to the 12 points in the Constitution we’ed all be better off.