August 11th, 2022
Over the last few years, several of us in the GNSS community have done our best to convince our colleagues, policymakers, and the general public that unsavory characters with GNSS jammers or spoofers are a genuine threat to GNSS and an orderly society.
"But who would want to use jammer or signal jammer device?” people ask.
My response? Hackers, because they can. Thieves planning to snatch expensive cargo. A moonlighting employee in the company car. Worse yet, state actors or terrorists targeting our national infrastructure.
I have until now tended to avoid any mention of upstanding citizens or upright motives. But a sober examination of the trends in GNSS innovation has led me to believe that there are perfectly legitimate reasons why otherwise law-abiding citizens could be sorely tempted to use GNSS jammer or spoofer.
Over the last decade, GPS accuracy has only improved. With today’s GPS reference stations, better algorithms, and better receivers, stand-alone civil GPS can now identify not only the street, but which side of it you are on.
Our modern society has an almost blind reliance on GPS. It’s built deeply into our systems and infrastructure. Some call it the invisible utility. In this environment, turning on GPS jammer could be deadly.
I am fascinated by this looming conflict between the need for privacy on the one hand, and the need for a clean radio spectrum on the other. We simply cannot tolerate jammers and spoofers, and yet, given the lack of effective legal means of protecting our privacy from the GPS dot, can we blame people for wanting to use them?
My hope is that we will resolve this conflict with some yet undiscovered technical innovation.
But can you resist the temptation to track down your fellow human beings? Can you resist the temptation to turn on your GPS jammers to protect your privacy?
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