European GPS System Hacked


When the Europeans who are working to develop their own GPS system stalled on a promise to release the signal code to U.S. researchers, a team at Cornell University decided to figure it out for themselves. “Even Europeans were being frustrated,” said Mark Psiaki, leader of the Cornell engineering team. “Then it dawned on me: Maybe we can pull these things off the air, just with an antenna and lots of signal processing.” He did just that, and published his results in the June issue of GPS World. But while the U.S. system is taxpayer-funded and its signal is free, the Europeans intend to sell the signals from their Galileo satellites to recoup some of the $4 billion cost. Psiaki says it won’t work to try to copyright the data. “Imagine someone builds a lighthouse,” he said. “And I’ve gone by and see how often the light flashes and measured where the coordinates are. Can the owner charge me a licensing fee for looking at the light? … No. How is looking at the Galileo satellite any different?” The Galileo system is scheduled to enter service by 2010.