Global Positioning System

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Global Positioning System Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has been on the market for a number of years now. Originally developed by the military for logistical tracking and navigation, it has seen a number of applications for personal and commercial uses in recent years, with more coming down the development pipeline. GPS uses a constellation of low earth orbit satellites to determine the exact longitude, latitude and altitude of the user or vehicle with the tracking monitor. This location is determined by using trilateration between at least three, and preferably four satellites overhead. However this new emerging technology is not without it’s issues, privacy being the biggest one of them. Ethicists and the public at large argue that if gadgets can determine your location anywhere on the planet, can they also be used to monitor you and could that information be turned against you. This paper discusses the GPS technology, its myriad of uses, and the ethical issues we must deal with as this technology is adopted by the mass public. Current Technology: How It Works: The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of 27 satellites orbiting the Earth in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is at an altitude of about 12,000 miles. In this orbit, each satellite makes two complete rotations around the planet everyday and the orbits are arranged so that at any time, there are at least four satellites visible in the sky, anywhere on the planet. The GPS receiver unit on the ground, locates these satellites and figures out the distance to each satellite, and then uses that information to figure out its own location. This process is called trilateration[i]. Trilateration is a little tricky to explain in 3-dime... ... middle of paper ... ...tuff Works, 14 Nov. 2003, <>. [ii] Steven Ashley, “Next Generation GPS,” Scientific American, September 2003: 34. [iii] N’Gai Croal, “A Tracker in Your Kid’s Backpack,” Newsweek, 11/25/2002:69. [iv] Erin Burt, “Traffic Cop On Board,” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, March 2003: 26. [v] Ira Sager, “Your Mouse Knows Where Your Car Is,” Business Week, 10/27/2003:16. [vi] Otto Pohl, “Alternative Currents: GPS for the Blind,” Popular Science, August 2003: 18. [vii] Brian Doherty, “Warrantless Tracking,” Reason, August 2003:11 Bibliography: Barbour, Ian. Ethics in an Age of Technology. Harper San Francisco, 1993 Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. McGraw-Hill Companies, 1998 Spinello, Richard. Cyber Ethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc. Sudbury, MA

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