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US stop messing with GPS



Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States will stop the intentional
degradation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) signals available to the public
beginning at midnight tonight. We call this degradation feature Selective Availability
(SA). This will mean that civilian users of GPS will be able to pinpoint locations
up to ten times more accurately than they do now. GPS is a dual-use, satellite-based
system that provides accurate location and timing data to users worldwide. My March
1996 Presidential Decision Directive included in the goals for GPS to: encourage
acceptance and integration of GPS into peaceful civil, commercial and scientific
applications worldwide; and to encourage private sector investment in and use of
U.S. GPS technologies and services.? To meet these goals, I committed the U.S. to
discontinuing the use of SA by 2006 with an annual assessment of its continued use
beginning this year.

The decision to discontinue SA is the latest measure in an on-going effort to make
GPS more responsive to civil and commercial users worldwide. Last year, Vice President
Gore announced our plans to modernize GPS by adding two new civilian signals to enhance
the civil and commercial service. This initiative is on-track and the budget further
advances modernization by incorporating some of the new features on up to 18 additional
satellites that are already awaiting launch or are in production. We will continue
to provide all of these capabilities to worldwide users free of charge.

My decision to discontinue SA was based upon a recommendation by the Secretary of
Defense in coordination with the Departments of State, Transportation, Commerce,
the Director of Central Intelligence, and other Executive Branch Departments and
Agencies. They realized that worldwide transportation safety, scientific, and commercial
interests could best be served by discontinuation of SA. Along with our commitment
to enhance GPS for peaceful applications, my administration is committed to preserving
fully the military utility of GPS. The decision to discontinue SA is coupled with
our continuing efforts to upgrade the military utility of our systems that use GPS,
and is supported by threat assessments which conclude that setting SA to zero at
this time would have minimal impact on national security. Additionally, we have
demonstrated the capability to selectively deny GPS signals on a regional basis when
our national security is threatened. This regional approach to denying navigation
services is consistent with the 1996 plan to discontinue the degradation of civil
and commercial GPS service globally through the SA technique.

Originally developed by the Department of Defense as a military system, GPS has become
a global utility. It benefits users around the world in many different applications,
including air, road, marine, and rail navigation, telecommunications, emergency response,
oil exploration, mining, and many more. Civilian users will realize a dramatic improvement
in GPS accuracy with the discontinuation of SA. For example, emergency teams responding
to a cry for help can now determine what side of the highway they must respond to,
thereby saving precious minutes. This increase in accuracy will allow new GPS applications
to emerge and continue to enhance the lives of people around the world.


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