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Leica M Typ 240: GPS Deactivated in Some Areas

GPS is available with the Leica M using the optional Multifunctional Handgrip M.

Quoting from the Leica M Typ 240 manual:

• In certain countries or regions, the use of GPS and associated technologies may be restricted...

• The use of GPS inside the People’s Republic of China and Cuba and close to their borders (exceptions: Hong Kong and Macau) is prohibited by national laws.

• Violations will be prosecuted by the authorities. The GPS function is therefore deactivated automatically in these areas.

One could look at this in various unpleasant ways. But of course one could also view it as a “save your butt” feature.

See SCIENCE, 25 January 2013 Vol 339. for a disturbing article on this topic which speaks to my “unpleasant” comments above.

“Since at least 2007, it has been effectively illegal for foreigners to operate a GPS device in China. International brands of cameras with GPS capabilities have been rigged to avoid displaying coordinates if the user is in China, says Stefan Geens, an analyst in Stockholm who studies networked digital maps and geospatial imagery”.

At least Leica has spelled it out, whatever one’s view on the matter might be. Presumably, Leica products would be banned in China and Cuba otherwise, and I’ve heard that Canon and Nikon do the same with their GPS hardware.

I wonder if Apple has been forthcoming on this issue with the iPhone, or if GPS has been disabled in the iPhone for China also. Apparently Apple has disabled GPS in Egypt.

Mark S writes:

Curious note from Leica on GPS functions in china. I've spent quite a bit of time in the PRC, in a dozen or so cities and the GPS on various iPhones (going back a few generations) has always worked. Haven't tried camera GPS except, of course, for the iPhone's own camera.

Originally it was at times confusing because of major misalignments between the photos and the maps, placing the blue dot several blocks away at times on the map but not on the aerial, or vice versa, but that has mostly been corrected.

DIGLLOYD: sounds like GPS is enabled on iPhone, at least in ordinary areas.

Gianluca A writes:

The GPS on the iPhone 3GS was working perfectly in Beijing and Shanghai, as I used it with an offline map application.

I didn't know I was breaking the law...

DIGLLOYD: Perhaps you weren’t. I don’t know Chinese law or whether Leica is correct. It might be that only certain sensitive areas are at issue.

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