A smartphone app called Waze, which allows drivers to mark where they spot police cars along roadsides, is under fire by police officers who want the app disabled.
Waze, which was bought by Google in 2013 for $966 million, is a free, social media type app which allows drivers to interact in real-time with other drivers on the road. The app currently has 50 million users in over 200 countries.
Traffic conditions are constantly updated within the app and any route detours or bad road conditions are also made visible for other drivers to see. The app also allows users to mark where they spot police cars on the road, but whether the police cars are part of a speed trap or a DUI checkpoint is not viewable.
Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia has a problem with the app though. According to the Inquisitr, Brown said, “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.”
A reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California is also calling the app a “stalking app” according to Gulf News. Sergio Kopelev believes allowing people to mark where police officers are puts officers in danger because anyone with a grudge against police can then easily locate officers.
Jim Pasco, an executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, agrees with Kopelev saying, “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.”
While police officers are asking for the app to be disabled, others are defending the app.
Nuala O’Connor, the head of the Washington Civil Rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology, has said according to NBC Washington, “I do not think it is legitimate to ask a person-to-person communication to cease simply because it reports on publicly visible law enforcement.”
O’Connor did raise concerns about how much privacy Waze users can expect since their movements are being tracked when the app is turned on.
As of now, Google reportedly has no plans to disable the app or restrict it in anyway.