The Latest Federal Power Grab: Navigation Apps

Government bureaucracy is the kudzu of modern civilization. It’s a smothering, all-consuming, self-perpetuating monster that sucks the life out of everything it touches. 

Case in point: for some bizarre reason known only to the infantile minds of government functionaries, Obama’s Transportation Department (go ahead, I defy you to explain why a such thing even exists) believes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (ditto) has authority over mobile devices.

Yep, they want to control your Google Maps.

The measure is buried in the Grow America Act amid other happy-sounding nonsense that will do absolutely nothing whatsoever to “grow America” and will, almost certainly, make life worse, because that’s the wildly expansive government championed by this administration does.

This new authority would give NHTSA the power to regulate, restrict, and order changes to individual smartphone apps by classifying them as motor vehicle equipment.

The problem in search of a solution is this idea that people using apps for navigation, rather than expensive stand-alone or built-in GPS systems, are uniquely dangerous on the road. Are they? Why? Is there proof of a problem? If so, why do the Feds need to flex their muscles rather than leaving the matter to the states?

The NY Times tells us that the measure already has the support of the auto manufacturers. You know: the same people who want to sell you expensive built-in navigation systems. No conflict there. And, of course, the same safety Nazis that swaddle us in useless bike helmets and protect us from the terrifying threat of opening the lid of a modern washing machine mid-cycle are totally behind this.

If there is a proven problem with mobile navigation systems–one that makes them somehow significantly more dangerous than your average Garmin or TomTom–then the states can amend their anti-texting laws to include any kind of mobile use in a moving (not a stationary) vehicle. Giving the USDOT power over mobile applications, however, is madness.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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