Privacy Law

Should Google stop pointing out police cars to users of popular Waze traffic app?

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Waze app

An example of a police alert on the Waze app. (Image courtesy of Waze.)

Add law enforcement officers to the list of those concerned about personal privacy and safety implications of Internet tracking.

Among other services provided by Waze, the popular Google traffic application makes it easy for drivers to share with fellow motorists the location of any speed traps they spot. However, some fear the app also could aid those targeting law enforcement officers, the Associated Press reports.

Among those concerned about a potential threat is Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, who chairs the National Sheriffs Association technology committee.

“The 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,” Brown said.

A spokeswoman for Waze says the app actually promotes public safety by sharing information with police, helping to cut traffic congestion and speeding response to emergencies.

That, however, could also present a problem, said civil liberties advocate Nuala O’Connor, who is in charge of the Center for Democracy and Technology. She is concerned that Waze could be violating motorists’ privacy by sharing too much information.

Related coverage:

Yahoo Tech: “7 Things I Love About Waze”

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