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GPS and the Police State We Inhabit: Living in Oceania

Having outstripped our ability as humans to control it, technology has become our Frankenstein’s monster. Delighted with technology’s conveniences, its ability to make our lives easier by doing an endless array of tasks faster and more efficiently, we have given it free rein in our lives, with little thought to the legal or moral ramifications of doing so. Thus, we have no one but ourselves to blame for the fact that technology now operates virtually autonomously according to its own invasive code, respecting no one’s intimate moments or privacy and impervious to the foibles of human beings and human relationships. For example, consider how enthusiastically we welcomed Global Positioning System (GPS) devices into our lives. We’ve installed this satellite-based technology in everything from our phones to our cars to our pets. Yet by ensuring that we never get lost, never lose our loved ones and never lose our wireless signals, we are also making it possible for the government to never lose sight of us, as well. GPS, originally known as Navstar, is funded and operated by none other than the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. military controls the satellites used by GPS devices and transmits signals to ground GPS receivers. The U.S. Air Force, by means of ground stations, sustains 24 operational GPS satellites at all times. These synchronized satellites emit signals at the same time. A GPS receiver located on earth collects the signals that travel at the speed of light. The receiver calculates the distance to the satellites by determining the time it takes for the emitted signal to reach the GPS receiver. Once a time is determined for at least four of the GPS satellites, the receiver can pinpoint your location in three dimensions, including latitude, longitude, and altitude.

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