The shortest way is not always the best way. Some small rural villages in Britain have asked to be taken off the map. GPS has identified them as the fastest alternative routes. This has led to non-moving traffic on their narrow one-way streets, which were primarily constructed for horses and carts. Barrow Gurney, a village which is too small to have a sidewalk is swamped by 15,000 vehicles a day en route to Bristol Airport. The residents complain of traffic, damages on the streets because of heavily loaded vehicles, and pollution.
Nowadays, there are real time GPS which updates the users with traffic situations in metropolitan areas. But on small localities, this real time service is just not practical.
The residents then ask the government that they be taken off the map. This is in fact a demand that GPS information be regulated. They are asking the police power of the state to be able to regulate this private service owned by paying users. Can they do this? Will their municipal order suffice in ordering this action? Or is this an issue for national deliberation and consequences? Don’t the municipal government technically own these streets?
Constitutionally, on one hand, the government is protecting public policy and welfare, by the nuisance of traffic and destruction of public property. On the other hand, the government will go into the right of the people to know the best possible routes when subscribing to GPS. The information having been paid for and of public knowledge shouldn’t be suppressed to be used merely of a select few, an unlawful discrimination of sorts.
This may not even be a national issue but merely solved by a municipal order not only regulating traffic entry between certain hours but also to bar entry of certain heavy vehicles. Or they could petition the courts to compel the GPS providers for some regulation.
To me, this is really just an issue of government intervention. Is this within the public domain? Can the government regulate technologies in these situations? Or are we going to lay a dangerous precedence of having the government curtail certain developments by unintentional off the mark results of government action. Is this even proper for state intervention?
I remember the issue years past wherein typing in the search engine of google for a certain religion resulted in links which were against the religion. This led the followers to petition the courts to have google take specific actions, which google said they cannot do. Their engine has an unbiased calculation of the most relevant and popular links. They in essence said that to intervene will be tantamount to fooling the system of the engine resulting to arbitrariness in the search. In the end I believe it got dismissed, google didn’t even have to do anything. After a few days the religious links came ahead of the anti-religion ones. It was in fact the religion’s ruckus that urged people to check out the sites, similar to banned books which become instant bestsellers.
also published in Times