Google’s location and traffic app Waze has been labelled a “stalking app” by two U.S. officials, asking for the developers to remove the ‘police nearby’ functionality.
Reserve deputy sheriff Sergio Kopelev of Southern California started the complaint, claiming user submitted reports on police cars in nearby locations are a threat to security and a danger to police.
Not only does this give users in a nearby location access to police whereabouts, Kopelev believes it could be used to target police drivers in the area, although there is little evidence of this happening.
Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia told The Guardian, “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.”
Privacy activists have went the opposite way however, claiming the user submitted reports are not illegal, but the amount of information shared between Waze and U.S. authorities could be a major issue.
The topic was brought to the National Sheriffs Association in late-2014 and it will be processed in the upcoming months. It is clear U.S. authority don’t want Waze users knowing police patrols, despite users potentially finding comfort in a close police patrol.
Waze offers a serious amount of information about the road, including real-time traffic, construction and obstruction, congestion, speed traps, unsafe weather and other information to create the perfect route and avoid unnecessary delays.
In the past few months, Waze has been integrating more social controls to show different types of cars and people on the road. Reports say Waze might launch a new feature to show Google+ (or potentially Facebook) friends on the road, adding to the social factor.
Google acquired Waze for $966 million in 2014, integrating the Israeli-based startup into Google Maps. Neither group was available to comment on the National Sheriffs Association’s investigation.