Could Google’s Waze be a “police stalking” app?

Some law enforcement officers have called on Google to disable the police alert function on Waze, its popular traffic app, the Associated Press reported.

The app, which combines GPS navigation information and tips from drivers, allows people to avoid traffic jams and find alternative routes. Users also alert each other if police are nearby, distinguishing the police vehicle as either “hidden” or “visible.” A police icon appears on the screen without any more information about what officers are doing.

Google bought Waze in 2013 for more than $900 million.

The issue arose at the recent National Sheriffs Association meeting in Washington, where a reserve sheriff from southern California spoke about the potential danger to police to have their locations broadcast over Waze.

While there have been no links between Waze use and the killing of police, some officers say they are concerned.

Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, who is chairman of the National Sheriffs Association’s technology committee told the AP:

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.

Julie Mossler, a Waze spokesperson, told the AP the company shares traffic information with law enforcement and thinks carefully about safety and security issues:

These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion.

Above: Screenshot from Waze.



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  • boomer0127

    if google disables the police function on waze then it is very likely that most people would stop using the app. it is one of the few reasons to use waze over other apps. sometimes the crowdsourcing information tends to favor routes more often travelled instead of the best route.

    most of the time anyway the police are rarely where the app says they are – I kinda thought the police were driving around planting fake police to help slow down traffic.

  • Sam Nicholson

    As I remember from elementary school, we fought a war (partly) over the right to know and warn others of the presence of armed authority.

    They should name the feature “Paul Revere” and folks might recall.