There is no doubt that social media can be of help to police when it comes to protecting our communities. The experts call this phenomenon “force multiplier”. However, we are also seeing the negative effects that technology can have on law enforcement, with perhaps none being as negative as one of the features of Google’s app Waze.
In case you are not familiar with it, Waze is a real-time traffic app which can help users avoid accidents, traffic jams and even stalled cars. The controversial aspect of the app, however, is the “traffic cop” feature which warns the users of the presence of traffic cops, giving them their exact location.
The reason why it is so controversial is that it can turn Waze into the perfect tool for someone who wishes to ambush a police officer. To put things in perspective, ambush attacks on police officers have for the fifth year in a row been identified as No. 1 cause of felonious death of police officers on duty.
Perhaps the most indemnifying example of this occurred when Ismaaiyl Brinsley used the application to monitor the movements of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos and then assassinated them in their patrol car, point blank range. He even posted the screen captures of their location on Instagram. Location that he obtained through Waze.
Google has built a good reputation by adhering to moral, ethical and legal obligations, but in this case, they are definitely on the defensive. For instance, Google executives simply refused to discuss this subject with the representatives from the National Sheriff’s Association, an organization that represents more than 3,000 sheriff’s offices around the US.
This outright refusal by Google to even comment on the controversy is something new.
What do you think about this whole issue?