The New York Times reports that Russia's efforts to expand Glonass, Russia's version of the widely used Global Positioning System, could be all but halted in the US due to the nation's latest defense budget bill. The bill, signed into law on Thursday, would require the US secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence to provide a waiver ensuring that data transfers between Glonass' land-based stations are not encrypted, and certify that they pose no threat to national security, among other requirements. "The idea was to make it next to impossible, if not impossible, to do this," a House Republican aide told the Times.
As the Times points out, several nations in Asia and the EU have been working to compete with the dominance of American GPS. The efforts echo similar ambitions by some nations to reduce the United States' power over the global internet, especially in the wake of this year's NSA revelations.
While Glonass towers are not deployed widely in the United States, some phone-makers have touted its benefits. Last year, Sony added Glonass positioning to several of its Xperia handsets, claiming that the additional data offered by Russia's satellites compliment the US GPS system. A Sony and Qualcomm test in San Francisco found that accuracy could be improved by up to 50 percent with Glonass and GPS combined.