Police are asking Google, owner of the popular traffic-monitoring app Waze, to disable a feature that allow users to report the locations of police speed traps, saying the feature puts cops’ lives in danger, NBC Washington is reporting.
The Waze app is a source of crowdsourced data about real-time traffic conditions, allowing users to plan their drives based on information gathered by other drivers. Among the features are options that allow users to report road construction, bad weather conditions, traffic jams, and bad roads.
It’s the Police button that Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia and his colleagues have a problem with.
“The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action.”
In other words, if Google, the corporate owner of Waze, doesn’t disable the feature, they’ll enact a law to make it illegal.
Calling the Waze feature a “stalking app,” according to Gulf News, Sheriff Sergio Kopelev says that the app tells would-be cop-killers exactly where cops are.
As of this post, there have been no known assaults on police connected to the Waze app, but Koeleve and his colleagues believe that the day will come soon enough unless Google acts.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, believes that bank robbers could make use of the Waze police-reporting feature.
“I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue. There’s no control over who uses it. So, if you’re a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.”
Police have had an uneasy relationship with smartphone technology that allows reporting on police whereabouts. In 2011, a group of U.S. Senators asked Apple to remove any apps that report on the location of sobriety checkpoints, fearing that the information could be used by drunks who wanted to escape notice.
Waze’s parent company, Google, has also found itself facing the ire of law enforcement. Revelations by NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden pointed out that the government has been illegally culling information from Google and Yahoo, according to this Inquisitr report. In response, Google, Apple, and other tech companies have made it easier for users to encrypt their data – a move that President Barack Obama opposes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As of this post, Google has no plans to disable the police-reporting feature on the Waze app.
[Images courtesy of: Watchdog, Digital Trends]