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

According to a New York Times article, the US government is interested in passing regulation that could let it make changes to navigation apps it deems dangerous.
June 16, 2014
rubber stamp marked with regulation

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.


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?