Destination not permitted

In post-Soviet Russia, GPS stirs you wrong:

Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.

Local media had a field day with the news, with The Moscow Times running the headline, “The Kremlin Eats GPS for Breakfast.” Clearly, an unknown force, emitted from somewhere, is interfering with satellite signals and replacing pinpoint coordinates with a default location when people stray too near.

Official explanation? What do you think?

When asked, official channels returned no explanation. The Russian Federal Protection Service, tasked with Kremlin security, apparently has no interest in dashing across Red Square to provide the press with details on the mystery.

To me, this sounds like the old radar jammer, updated. It doesn’t actually jam; what it does is overwhelm the incoming signal with one of its own, thereby creating bogus readings.

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5 comments »

  1. fillyjonk »

    31 January 2017 · 10:23 am

    I vaguely remember that formerly in the US – before Garmin and all, back when only goofy ecologists and botanists and geographers used GPS devices for field research – there was some level of error “baked in” to them, ostensibly for national-security reasons. But at some point that was lifted. I’m guessing the Kremlin has some in it who are still Soviet-level paranoid….

  2. Mike »

    31 January 2017 · 12:29 pm

    GRU-PS?

  3. jay »

    31 January 2017 · 3:18 pm

    What do you want to bet the same thing happens in DC if you’re using a Russian GLONASS device?

  4. CGHill »

    31 January 2017 · 5:30 pm

    I wonder what happens in Green Bank, West Virginia, where signals of all sorts are banned.

  5. ETat »

    1 February 2017 · 7:01 am

    It is a mistake to characterize Kremlin as “old” Soviet era paranoid.
    Paranoia never goes out of fashion there.

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