Google-owned app Waze could help cop killers find police, say US officers
Police are pressuring Google to turn off a feature in its Waze maps service that allows people to see when police are nearby. The feature is intended to alert drivers to speed checks, but could be used by people looking to attack police, they say.
Waze is a social maps service, where users can mark things of interest for other drivers, such as traffic and speed cameras, as well as speed traps run by police. Google bought the app in 2013.
Those social features allow users to mark when they have spotted police, and to choose whether they are “visible” or “hidden”. That marks the presence of police on the map — but the app doesn’t discriminate between those running speed traps or those just having lunch.
That could allow users that want to harm or kill police to find them more easily, according to Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in California.
There are no known connections between any attack on police and Waze, but Kopelev and others are concerned it's only a matter of time. They are seeking support among law enforcement trade groups to pressure Google.
Concerns were raise during a meeting of the National Sheriffs Association in Washington. Officers said that the Instagram account of the man accused of fatally shooting police officers in New York last month, which included Waze screenshots as well as messages threatening police.
While Waze does not appear to have been used in the attacks.
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A Waze spokeswoman, Julie Mossler, said the company works with the New York Police Department and others around the world.
"These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion," Mossler said.
Google declined to comment.
Belfast Telegraph Digital