Does a popular traffic app really pose a danger?

Whether they realize it or not, most people have some sort of routine that they follow prior to leaving their home. It might consist of taking a final look in the mirror, filling their pockets with certain items or double-checking the contents of their bag.

Many others have subconsciously adopted the habit of checking various apps on their smartphone prior to leaving, such that they know what to expect in terms of things like traffic and weather. Interestingly enough, at least one of these traffic apps is now being called out by law enforcement officials across the nation for being potentially dangerous.

What traffic app are law enforcement officials calling out as dangerous?

The traffic app in question is Waze, which is operated by technology giant Google. For those unfamiliar with Waze, it is essentially a sort of social networking-GPS hybrid that enables its roughly 50 million users to share real-time information about traffic conditions.

This includes sharing information on traffic levels, construction, potholes, weather conditions and even the presence of police officers.

Why do law enforcement officials think Waze is dangerous and what do they want from Google?

The prevailing view is that Waze serves as a veritable stalking app for those who would like to harm a law enforcement official and, because of this, the feature should be disabled.

What do civil liberties groups think of this request to disable the police-tracking feature on Waze?

As you might imagine, these groups remain steadfastly opposed to such an action, arguing that Waze only allows people to report on otherwise publically visible law enforcement officers and has yet to be definitively linked to any sort of dangerous conduct.

Has Google done anything at this point?

No. The feature has not been disabled at this point by Waze.

Is there any precedent for this sort of thing?

Yes, back in 2011 four U.S. senators asked Apple to prohibit any apps that publish the location of sobriety checkpoints, calling it a major safety issue. The company responded by only allowing apps to publish the location of sobriety checkpoints already made public by law enforcement officials.

It will be fascinating to see what transpires …

If you have been charged with any sort of felony or misdemeanor, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about protecting your rights and your future.

Source: The Associated Press, “Law enforcement wants popular police-tracking app disabled,” Eileen Sullivan, Jan. 26, 2015

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