Waze app informs users on the location of policemen ahead, though it does not reveal any other information about their intent and presence. Such information can be used for police stalking and can also facilitate people who wish to harm the police to track the officers down. Requests have been made to Google, the owner of the app, in order to remove the respective feature from the app. (Supplied – Law Enforcement Spokesmen)
Waze is an application that has been used by over 50 million people across more than 20 countries in the world. Its purpose is to inform people on the details of every GPS application, as well as on data that is meant to facilitate their experience on the road. For instance, being informed a prior on the heavy traffic that lies ahead or getting details on where there are bad weather conditions can be truly helpful to the people who use the app.
Among other things, there is information on where police can be found ahead. Such details can prevent users from having unpleasant encounters with law enforcement, even though the info is not detailed, rather than simplistic and straightforward. It is worth mentioning that Google purchased Waze back in 2013.
The recent incident with the killing of two NYPD officers by Ismaaiyl Brinsley raised concern over the impact of apps such as Waze on the safety of the police. In specific, the shooter had posted screenshots of Waze depicting the police found on his way in several cases before the killings occurred. This has been the trigger for Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who has written a letter to Google expressing his discontent about the application’s potential consequences on any police officer.
Among others, he stated: “Waze could be misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community.” Although Beck used the recent killings in the form of proof as to the jeopardy of police officers due to the app, there is yet no direct connection between Waze and the success of Ismaaiyl Brisney to kill the policemen.
Unlike Charlie Beck, the head of the Center for Democracy and Technology Nuala O’Connor stated that it would not be proper for Google to proceed with the specific feature of police tracking. “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 has commented on the reactions and the request made on behalf of the police.
There is a dilemma as to whether privacy is breached by the app of Waze or not. The usefulness of an app that reports where police is found along the way should be taken for granted; however, such a convenience cannot be the trigger for stalking and even harming representatives of law enforcement. There is a thin line between freedom of information and its abuse and once this line is crossed, only bad things can happen. It is left to see how Google will react, since up to this time there has been no official response regarding the claims of the police.