Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spatial Law and Policy Update (January 27, 2010)

If true, this step by the Indian government to unlock government owned data will be an important one. It will follow similar recent announcements by the government in the UK. You will note in the first article the reference to the role that Google Earth played in this decision.

As most of you know, the Ordnance Survey in the UK continues to put a number of use restrictions in its license agreement. Some of the restrictions are quite innovative - such as the number of pixels that can be used in an internet publication. The following discussion from the Journal of Maps shows the difficulties associated with trying to comply with such restrictions.

Ordinarily, I would not include a link to an article on a Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing. However, the decision, which can be found here, is somewhat unusual. The majority opinion cites the growing importance of social media, such as blogs, as one of the reasons it strikes down the limitations on the amounts corporations can give to campaigns. Other than it apparently including the first reference to a "blog" in a Supreme Court opinion, this reference is important because it highlights that the Supreme Court justices have recognized that the changing technology landscape impacts existing laws and policies. Regardless of how one feels about the decision, this is an important step.

On the surface, this announcement by Nokia seems to be a good thing. (Read about it here as well). However, one wonders whether the rush to provide free navigation data will impact the quality of the data that is collected and used. I would imagine it will be increasingly difficult to justify the necessary cost associated with high quality data if the service is considered a "loss leader".

I keep on reading about how privacy is lost given today's technology. However, I also keep on reading about measures taken like this one by Microsoft, that seem designed, at least in part, to protect consumers' privacy. As I have stated here on a few occasions, I do think that as individuals we will have to redefine our sense of privacy given existing - and future - technology, but what that new definition will be is still an open question.

In New Jersey, the use of a GPS device while driving may soon become against the law. Actually, the bill, which is one of a several such bills being proposed in legislatures across the country, is unlikely to become law. But it is an example of the growing push to regulate "distracted drivers". In fact, this week the U.S. Department of Transportation banned texting by drivers of trucks and buses.

Another piece of proposed legislation to keep an eye on - this time having to do with funding a study on a federal vehicle tracking tax.

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