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Police Urge Google to Remove Police Tracking Feature from Waze App

waze, google

Sheriffs are pressuring Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software program that warns drivers when police are nearby. They say 1 of the technologies sector’s most well known mobile apps could place officers’ lives in danger.

Waze, which Google purchased for $966 million in 2013, is a mixture of GPS navigation and social networking. Fifty million customers in 200 countries turn to the cost-free service for real-time visitors guidance and warnings about nearby congestion, car or truck accidents, speed traps or traffic cameras, building zones, stalled automobiles or unsafe climate circumstances.

To Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in California, Waze is also a stalking app for law enforcement.

There are no known connections between any attack on police and Waze, but Kopelev and other folks are concerned it’s only a matter of time. They are searching for support among law enforcement trade groups to stress Google.

Brown and Kopelev raised concerns in the course of the meeting of the National Sheriffs Association winter conference in Washington. They pointed to the Instagram account of the man accused of fatally shooting two New York Police Department officers final month. Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted a screenshot from Waze along with messages threatening police. Investigators do not think he utilised Waze to ambush the officers, in component for the reason that police say Brinsley tossed his cellphone far from exactly where he shot the officers.

The executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, mentioned his organization has issues.

The emerging policy debate places Google once more at the centre of a international debate about public security, consumer rights and privacy.

Waze customers mark police presence on maps with no a great deal distinction other than “visible” or “hidden.” Customers see a police icon, but it’s not straight away clear no matter if police are there for a speed trap, a sobriety check or a lunch break.

A Waze spokeswoman, Julie Mossler, mentioned the enterprise functions with the New York Police Department and other individuals around the world.

“These relationships maintain citizens secure, market faster emergency response and enable alleviate targeted traffic congestion,” Mossler mentioned.

Google declined to comment.

Google has a difficult partnership with government and law enforcement. The company is on a regular basis compelled to turn over to police worldwide copies of emails or other facts about its customers.

Final year, just after disclosures that the National Security Agency had illicitly broken into Google’s overseas World-wide-web communication lines, Google and other technologies providers rolled out encryption for users, which the U.S. government stated could hamper law enforcement investigations.

Nuala O’Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington civil liberties group, said it would not be proper for Google to disable the police-reporting function.

“I do not think it is genuine to ask a particular person-to-person communication to cease merely since it reports on publicly visible law enforcement,” she stated. She stated a larger concern amongst privacy advocates is how substantially info about clients Waze shares with law enforcement, considering that the service monitors their location continually as long as it’s turned on.

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2015 by in Headlines, Technology, Waze and tagged , , , .

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