Police want Waze to remove its cop-spotting feature, but is the Google owned app’s practice of sharing user data with government the bigger threat?
Police officers across the country are calling on the traffic-focused social media app Waze to remove its cop-spotting feature. Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California, calls the undertaking his “personal jihad.”
The feature, which warns connected users when another user has reported that a police officer is nearby, is said to be dangerous and a tool for would-be cop killers, according to its police officer detractors. At a recent meeting of the National Sheriffs Association, Kopelev pointed to the Instagram account of the man who allegedly shot two police officers in Brooklyn last month as proof. However, Ismaaiyl Brinsley was found by investigators not to have used the tool in his murder of the two officers last month.
“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,” Nuala O’Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Guardian.
Waze users mainly use the police reporting feature to alert other users of speed traps and DUI checkpoints.
While there is not tangible evidence that points to Waze being used to target police, Google-owned Waze’s newfound practice of sharing user information with governments around the world might actually be something to worry about.