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GPS Devices Banned in Egypt

Posted: Oct 14, 2008 11:17 a.m.

The next time you're frustrated at the timbre of your GPS' voice directions, just be grateful you're receiving them at all. Since 2003, GPS navigation has been a no-go in Egypt -- and it's not the only country to ban GPS use -- North Korea and Syria also prohibit the use of GPS devices without a license.

Navigadget says Egyptians wanting to use a stand-alone GPS device or cell phone with GPS capabilities must appeal to the National Telecommunication Regulator Agency (NTRA) to get approval. Electronista adds that "companies that import hardware with GPS can lose their supplies if caught."

So if this law has existed since 2003, why is it receiving attention now? Because more manufacturers are adding GPS functionality to their cell phones, personal digital assistants and more, meaning the list of unmentionables in Egypt is growing. Some people are resorting to smuggling the devices into Egypt. 

"The government not only has people ignoring the law, but it also loses the revenues from import taxes on phones," writes cellular-news. "There are a lot of commercial companies making use of GPS functionality -- although they still need to acquire a license from the security authorities."

"No doubt this technology is very important, brand new service and a big advantage if it is allowed, but we have to abide to security laws; because when we give a license to any new communication device we need the approval of the board which represents all state agencies," Sherif Guinena, vice chairman of the NTRA, told the Daily Star Egypt. "There have been negotiations between us and the authorities to allow GPS commercial use but we didn't reach anything yet."

Feeling especially grateful for your technological liberties? Determine the best GPS device for you with U.S. News' GPS Reviews.