Technology

Cops Want Google To Disable Police Tracking On Cell Phone App Waze

| by Michael Allen

Fifty million people worldwide use Waze, a cell phone traffic app, to provide real time information on road congestion, accidents, construction areas, red light cameras and speed traps.

Some Waze users also list the positions of cops as "visible" or "hidden" in a police section of the app.

Google bought Waze in 2013 for $966 million.

However, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told Google in a Dec. 30, 2014, letter that Waze could be "misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community," reports the Associated Press.

Chief Beck claimed that Waze was used by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in the fatal shooting of two Brooklyn police officers on Dec. 20, 2014.

"I am confident your company did not intend the Waze app to be a means to allow those who wish to commit crimes to use the unwitting Waze community as their lookouts for the location of police officers," wrote Chief Beck.

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While there was a Waze screenshot (above) posted on the Instagram account of Brinsley, there has been no proof that Brinsley actually used Waze to find and kill the officers.

Investigators from the NYPD claim that Brinsley tossed his cell phone more than two miles away from the murder scene.

Gizmodo reports that California Reserve Deputy Sheriff Sergio Kopelev and Virginia Sheriff Mike Brown also want Google to eliminate the police tracking part of Waze.

Julie Mossler, a Waze spokeswoman, says that Waze cooperates with police departments.

"These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion," Mossler told the Associated Press.

Nuala O'Connor, of the Center for Democracy and Technology, added that the real problem is how Waze shares users' information, such as location, with law enforcement.

Sources: Associated Press, Gizmodo
Image Credit: Waze Instagram Screenshot