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FCC: All U.S. Cell Phones Should Be GPS Beginning In 2019

If you're paranoid about the ability of authorities to find you using your cell phone, you might want to sit down: The FCC will require that cell phone service providers and Voice over the Internet Protocol providers ensure their products meet stricter standards for location accuracy that currently apply to phones with GPS capability. The FCC intends for these standards to be implemented by a date to be determined beginning after 2019. Providers will be able choose either a handset-based system (imbedded GPS type chip), a network-based system, or a hybrid of the two.

Devices that are not GPS-enabled must be tracked via triangulation with local cellular towers, a time consuming process that can only give an approximate location and can dangerously delay critical assistance. The new regulation will allow almost universal pinpoint location of 911 callers by emergency responders. No date was given for when non-GPS enabled devices must be discontinued, but given FCC estimates that by 2018, 75 percent of all mobile devices will be GPS capable, it is likely that the assumption is the sunsetting of obsolete devices will occur naturally as consumers chuck outdated gadgets for shiny new ones. 

There may be interesting legal aspects to the new rule. In addition to increased safety for accident or crime victims, the regulation will affect all mobile phones, including pre-paid phones that don't require users to create accounts. This will make it possible for Law Enforcement agencies to locate people via mobile device regardless of service provider or phone model, and finally bring reality into full CSI/NCIS-compliance.

NOTE: Originally, this post contained two inaccuracies: that the new regulations would begin by 2018, and that phones would be required to contain an embedded GPS chip. The post was corrected based on additional data provided to us by the FCC.

  • burnley14
    Sounds kinda scary, but I don't think I will have a problem with it. I'm not too concerned with people knowing where I am as an invasion of my privacy, but it would be nice to know that if I am lost people will be able to find me easier.
    Reply
  • Leopardos
    Keep dreaming , Politics = CANCER of the WORLD !
    Reply
  • Marco925
    LeopardosKeep dreaming , Politics = CANCER of the WORLD !Politics can be changed, believe it or not, it actually works here in the west.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    1984...

    So crooks will now just turn off their phones while commiting crimes, and honest people will get their private lives hacked into and stolen.
    Reply
  • Leopardos
    I forgot to mention that im lucky im not living in the USA..
    Alot of people hate USA since the last few months , its because their Goverment ...
    I just hope people do stand together and do something about it like the Arab spring ... !
    I know there still good people, TV killing us all ...
    and this step about the Cell phones = Goverment Interest !
    Look at the economy ... mmmm realy sad what happened to the biggest country in the world ..
    Reply
  • tipmen
    Why would the government need to always track us... (for safety reason? 911 seems like BS to me) How is that serving the people? Sure it could help some people but it will most likely create problems even more problems. The world we live in today :-/
    Reply
  • cirdecus
    Another example of how horrible the US government has gotten. The government has no business telling private businesses what features and devices to integrate into their products. When do these stupid regulations stop!

    vote for Ron Paul
    Reply
  • EDVINASM
    Nothing wrong with that. I hope it will be for all portable electronics since it can aid finding stolen devices too. How many phones, xpads, netbooks, notebooks etc. get stolen and are never recovered? Also it would make 911 calls more efficient, instead of "where are you now, what is the address etc.".
    Reply
  • cirdecus
    I don't understand how a free market translates into so much government regulation and interference?!

    Are we just acclimated to this type of thing and expect it? This is not freedom. This is corporatism.

    Reply
  • cirdecus
    edvinasmNothing wrong with that. I hope it will be for all portable electronics since it can aid finding stolen devices too. How many phones, xpads, netbooks, notebooks etc. get stolen and are never recovered? Also it would make 911 calls more efficient, instead of "where are you now, what is the address etc.".
    Why should these companies be forced by the government to make changes like this? Perhaps the government should just make these devices if they want to regulate and control specifics like this. Oh wait, they can't.

    In fact, the FCC really has no business doing any of this. They're way beyond the scope of what they were created to do.

    Reply