Sheriffs are rallying to get Google to shut down a police-tracking feature in its Waze app
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Sheriffs are rallying to get Google to shut down a police-tracking feature in its Waze app

  • 2015-02-13 13:08:07
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News / Mobile phones Sheriffs are rallying to get Google to shut down a police-tracking feature in its Waze app

Waze, which was purchased by Google for upwards of $966 million in 2013, is a popular app that provides real-time information regarding traffic and conditions out on the road. It also features a way to keep tabs on police officers out on the road, too.

The feature, which essentially tracks the positions of police vehicles, is the center of a major focus from sheriffs as they try to get Google to shut down the police-tracking feature within the app, according to a report published by the Associated Press recently. The law enforcement officials believe that the app’s feature could put deputies’ lives at risk, despite the fact that there has been no ties between Waze and violence against officers.

All of that is simply the current state of things, according to deputies that believe it’s “only a matter of time,” before Waze’s feature is used to commit some kind of violent act against a parked officer. The report cites Sergio Kopelev, a deputy located in Southern California, as one of the individuals rallying to get Waze’s police-tracking feature removed. Kopelev actually calls the function a way to stalk law enforcement.

According to the report, Kopelev is working with several other officers and law enforcement to work with special interest groups to try and convince Google to remove the feature. This would put Google at center stage yet again when it comes to debates regarding personal, public safety, consumer rights and privacy.

A Waze spokeswoman, Julie Mossler, said the company thinks deeply about safety and security. She said Waze works with the New York Police Department and others around the world by sharing information. Google declined to comment.

“These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion,” Mossler said.

The focus from law enforcement spans all of the United States, including Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, as he believes the feature within Waze provides an inherent ability for some individuals to stalk officers out in the field:

he 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,” said Brown, who also serves as the chairman of the National Sheriffs Association technology committee.

Have you ever used this specific function within Waze?

[via AP]

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