One of the Apple iPhone 3G’s headlining features, aside from its support for 3G data connectivity, was its integrated GPS receiver. Using assisted GPS positioning, the iPhone 3G locks onto your precise location with ease.
Unfortunately for Egyptian iPhone 3G hopefuls, Apple has killed off GPS in the Egyptian iPhone. According to the New York Times, the Egyptian government forced Apple to do away with the GPS feature for fear that it would create a national security risk. Egypt argued that GPS positioning technology should be limited to military applications.
The move to disable GPS in the Egyptian iPhone 3G is being criticized as a faulty security policy at a time when Google Maps is capable of giving would-be terrorists a bird’s eye view of sensitive government locations. Egypt previously squashed a Facebook uprising that called for political reform, contradicting the uptake of new technologies.
Of even more concern is how this move affects human rights. Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights program of Human Rights Watch, says that the decision to cripple the Egyptian iPhone 3G of GPS could impact freedom of speech. Ganesan asks, “Here is the big question for Apple: Is this an ad-hoc approach or is there a fundamental policy, balancing the freedom of expression and information with the demands of the government?”