Massachusetts Realizes That Maybe GPS Isn't Too Newfangled After All; Reverses Order & Allows Uber

from the uber-onward dept

Well, that was fast. It seems that Uber, the innovative new transportation offering, keeps running into local regulatory problems... but as soon as the public gets wind of these, the local governments back down. Last month, it was DC backing down on a bill that would artificially inflate Uber's prices. And now, it's Massachusetts. Yesterday, we noted that the Luddite Council "Sealer of Weights & Measures" had ruled that Uber had to shut down in Boston and Cambridge because of these newfangled "GPS" things (and it didn't even know what GPS stood for).

And... just like that, the "Division of Standards" has issued a "modified hearing decision" on the matter, in which it realizes that perhaps GPS isn't such a crazy, awful, dangerous technology after all. Apparently after re-examining "relevant amendments to Handbook 44 by NIST and NCWM" (National Institute of Standards & Technology and the National Conference on Weights and Measures), they've decided that Uber can continue to operate, granted "provisional" approval, which is "pending the outcome of the NIST study and/or the establishment of any standards for the use of such systems."

In other words, crisis averted for now, but wouldn't it be better for local regulatory agencies to think these things through a bit more in the future rather than defaulting to banning any new and innovative offerings?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    Isn't gay marrage legal there?

    We can has gay uber :)

     

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  2.  
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    sehlat (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    Why shouldn't they default to "Ban it!"

    After all, THEY never have to pay any penalties for ruining a new business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    TasMot (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

    Where's the **AA people

    Are they lurking in the closet somewhere. I mean, aren't they the "My gawd, look at that new-fangled thang, let's get it banned" folks. Those silly thangs only been around for 20 years. How good can they be?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 7:21pm

    Handbook 44 ftw!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 7:31pm

    Just after Über complied and took away everyones iPhones and started to handed out sextants.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    davnel, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 7:52pm

    Re:

    Also, infernal combustion engines shouldn't be allowed, ever.
    Doesn't this sound a lot like our good friends in Hollyweird?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:04pm

    Just after Über complied and took away everyones iPhones and started to handed out sextants.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:09pm

    "but as soon as the public gets wind of these"

    back before the Internet, after the govt. started regulating broadcasting spectra, the public never learned about these things and they would be completely buried. If it weren't for govt. established broadcasting and cableco monopolies the public would have been made aware of anti-competitive taxi cab laws a long time ago and they would have not have gotten so bad. To the extent that the big media cartels cover these issues now it's only because of the Internets influence on the media.

    The plutocracy knows that, in order to control the government, they must control the media and keep the public ignorant. They will do everything in their power to regulate the Internet in their self interest just like they did to everything outside the Internet. Not only must we resist such regulation, we must assume that if we are not pro-active in removing existing plutocratic laws (ie: govt. established broadcasting and cableco monopolies, 95+ year copy protection lengths, etc...), the laws regulating the Internet will inevitably get more and more plutocratic as time goes on and so our overall ability to openly communicate will only become more restricted. This is exactly what happened to broadcasting, the right for the public to broadcast wasn't all stolen from the public all at once but, instead, the government gradually passed more and more laws restricting our rights to broadcast and wrongfully granting a hand full of corporate interests exclusive privileges to broadcast at public expense in return for campaign contributions, revolving door favors, and modifications in what gets broadcasted about candidates (ie: a free for all broadcasting and cableco system with no regulations will likely discuss the positions of political candidates much more thoroughly, which is what politicians don't want, instead of the very broad discussions we currently have). If we aren't moving forward, and being pro-active, to remove existing bad laws and to set laws that prohibit the passage of laws that restrict our rights, then we are necessarily moving backwards and becoming more and more restricted by the passage of bad laws as the government is always passing many laws and hiding small clauses that gradually and subtly evade our rights. We must be proactive, it's our only choice, we must not only resist the passage of new bad laws, but we must aggressively demand the removal of currently existing bad laws.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:11pm

    Re:

    proactive *

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:16pm

    It seems more a case of "we don't want to push these guys out of business and risk a lawsuit, so we will let it ride until we have a technical standard they cannot support in place".

    WTG!

     

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  11.  
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    Memphis Slim.ru, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:18pm

    Re:

    It's called a "paragraph" Bro...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 11:33pm

    Regulatory Capture

    Evidently, they are just beginners at regulatory capture in Massachusetts. After only a small amount of public criticism, they reverse course. As they get better at it, they will be able to withstand ever larger amounts of public criticism. Ultimately, they will be completely impervious to public criticism, like their heroes, the TSA.

    Delights yet to come.

     

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  13.  
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    PCCare247 (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 11:41pm

    Didn't they know the meaning of GPS earlier?

    Why was it not allowed in the first place..? And now suddenly what happened that it was allowed..?? Realization of mistakes or someone just made them know the meaning of GPS...!!!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 1:37am

    'wouldn't it be better for local regulatory agencies to think these things through a bit more in the future rather than defaulting to banning any new and innovative offerings'

    of course it would but that would mean these various bodies, in particular the 'jobs worth' idiots within those bodies, not being able to exercise their authority!

     

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  15.  
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    peter, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 2:13am

    Re:

    Yeh. Not to mention actually having to actually do some work and even take some responsibility to go along with their authority.

     

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  16.  
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    chitarobbin, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 3:26am

    the very broad discussions we currently have). If we aren't moving forward, and being pro-active, to remove existing bad laws and to set laws that prohibit the passage of laws that restrict our rights, then we are necessarily moving backwards and becoming more and more restricted by the(poker applications) passage of bad laws as the government is always passing many laws and hiding small clauses that gradually and subtly evade our rights. We must be proactive, it's our only choice, we must not only resist the passage of new bad laws, but we must aggressively demand the removal of currently existing bad laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 16th, 2012 @ 3:45am

    Oh, does that mean they finally reached 21th century?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 6:08am

    So, the process worked.

    The Division of Standards looked into the practice of using GPS for the purposes that Uber was using it and found it acceptable and will continue to monitor the situation.

    I'm not sure what the problem is.

    If you expect the world to be your private experimentation laboratory, think again. Or would you like to step into my new imaging machine...no, no, there's no worry of side effects...trust me...gamma rays...schmamma rays...pure science fiction.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Bob B, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    It's about the accuracy of your bill...

    It's a well know fact that civilian GPS is intentionally less accurate than military applications for obvious security reasons. There is an expectation that common sense will lead people to make-up the difference as they're driving or walking. A quick scan of all the stories of people driving onto train tracks or into buildings "because the GPS told me to" tells you what happens if people blindly rely on civilian GPS.

    I have a problem with anyone trying to bill me using technology that is known to be inaccurate. I want the Division of Standards to continue to ensure that all the systems used to generate bills are as accurate as possible. Consider this - would you be happy if the gas pump or the scale at the supermarket had the same margin of error as civilian GPS?

     

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  20.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Aug 16th, 2012 @ 7:56am

    Re: It's about the accuracy of your bill...

    you do realize you are talking a matter of a few meters of correction between SPS and PPS. Not to mention you are confusing live navigation with determining distance by SPS coordinates, which at the worst case I could find was 25 feet. So an odometer reading off by .1 of a mile is a 160 meter discrepancy -vs- the 8 meter discrepancy of SPS, think i will take the latter.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Loki, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    Actually I think it more of a case where someone pointed out what a legal headache in other areas this decision might create if it was allowed to stand. I don't think a lot of people, even in government, realize the extent of GPS in today's society.

     

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  22.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 8:57am

    It is hard for them to argue that they do not acknowledge GPS or any other measurement system that is included in the Code of Federal Regulations. Lets see... it has several sections in 33 CFR - Navigation and Navigable Waters, and more in 47-telecommuncations, but that doesn't apply to their complaint I think.

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 16th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    Sentence first, Trial after!

    The Division of Standards looked into the practice of using GPS for the purposes that Uber was using it and found it acceptable and will continue to monitor the situation.

    I'm not sure what the problem is.


    The problem is the typically, the "looking into" part would come before the decision, not after.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 16th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: It's about the accuracy of your bill...

    I have a problem with anyone trying to bill me using technology that is known to be inaccurate.


    Then don't use Uber. I, personally, would have zero reservations about using such a service based on civilian GPS. To each his own.

    The key is disclosure: as long as you are fully informed that the distance measurement is a good approximation rather than exact, before you use the service, then there is no problem.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    chitarobbin, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 8:01pm

    It is hard for them to argue that they do not acknowledge GPS or any other measurement system that is included in the Code of Federal Regulations. Lets see... it has several sections in 33 CFR - Navigation and Navigable Waters, and more in 47-telecommuncations, but that doesn't apply to their complaint I think.[url=http://www.poker-apps.org]poker applications[/url]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    chitarobbin, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 8:02pm

    ishq

    This is exactly what happened to broadcasting, the right for the public to broadcast wasn't all stolen from the public all at once but, instead, the government gradually passed more and more laws restricting our rights to broadcast and wrongfully granting a hand full of corporate interests exclusive privileges to broadcast at public expense in return for campaign contributions, revolving door favors, and modifications in what gets broadcasted about candidates (ie: a free for all broadcasting and cableco system with no regulations will likely discuss the positions of political candidates much more thoroughly, which is what politicians don't want, instead of the very broad discussions we currently have). If we aren't moving forward, and being pro-active, to remove existing bad laws and to set laws that prohibit the passage of laws that restrict our rights, then we are necessarily moving backwards and becoming more[url=http://www.poker-apps.org]poker applications[/url] and more restricted by the passage of bad laws as the government is always passing many laws and hiding small clauses that gradually and subtly evade our rights. We must be proactive, it's our only choice, we must not only resist the passage of new bad laws, but we must aggressively demand the removal of currently existing bad laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    chitarobbin, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 8:03pm

    ishq

    This is exactly what happened to broadcasting, the right for the public to broadcast wasn't all stolen from the public all at once but, instead, the government gradually passed more and more laws restricting our rights to broadcast and wrongfully granting a hand full of corporate interests exclusive privileges to broadcast at public expense in return for campaign contributions, revolving door favors, and modifications in what gets broadcasted about candidates (ie: a free for all broadcasting and cableco system with no regulations will likely discuss the positions of political candidates much more thoroughly, which is what politicians don't want, instead of the very broad discussions we currently have). If we aren't moving forward, and being pro-active, to remove existing bad laws and to set laws that prohibit the passage of laws that restrict our rights, then we are necessarily moving backwards and becoming morea href="http://www.poker-apps.org">poker applications and more restricted by the passage of bad laws as the government is always passing many laws and hiding small clauses that gradually and subtly evade our rights. We must be proactive, it's our only choice, we must not only resist the passage of new bad laws, but we must aggressively demand the removal of currently existing bad laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    AW, Aug 19th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    As a Massachusetts resident...

    I can't say that I am surprised with the reversal. We're notoriously political about EVERYTHING. I'm surprised that they took action without going through several years of subcommittees before declaring that GPS was an outdated technology. We've got a huge tech sector, a huge student sector and by and large are a really young state overall.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Buzzwords, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Re: ishq

    "Proactive" is a buzzword used by those who detest what the current system entails, but have a poor idea of what they would like in its place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Buzzwords, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:33am

    Re: ishq

    "Proactive" is a buzzword used by those who detest what the current system entails, but have a poor idea of what they would like in its place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    The Guy I'm replying to is a total douche, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:38am

    Re:

    Is there an argument here, or are you just going to ramble on incoherently and not make a discernible point?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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