Surveillance

LAPD, Which Tracks Citizens Through Their Phones, Worries About You Doing the Same to Them

Cops don't like navigation app Waze because it shows where they are.

|


Traffic isn't all it's outsmarting.

Los Angeles Chief of Police Charlie Beck has sent a letter to Google complaining about an app Google owns called Waze. For those unfamiliar with the app, Waze is a GPS mobile service that helps people get from here to there with real-time updates and rerouting based on road conditions. One of the conditions Waze and its users may make note of on the map happens to be police officers or police vehicles. Waze, therefore, could alert users to traffic incidents where police are on the scene, or, well, speed traps or checkpoints. But that's totally not why Beck has problems with Waze, no sir. He argues that some crazy person out there will use Waze to stalk and murder police officers. From the Associated Press:

There are no known connections between any attack on police and Waze, although Beck said Waze was used in the killing of two New York Police Department officers on Dec. 20. The Instagram account of the gunman in that case included a screenshot from Waze along with other messages threatening police.

Investigators do not believe the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, used Waze to ambush the NYPD officers, in part because police say Brinsley tossed his cellphone more than two miles from where he shot the officers. In his letter to Google, Beck said that Brinsley had been using the Waze app to track police since early December.

"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," Beck wrote.

This is utterly absurd. There are a million ways some violent, crazy person could track down or lure police with the intent of ambushing or killing them, including following their cars or, you know, simply calling the police and reporting a fake crime. In my neighborhood, they can apparently just walk right up to the local police station and shoot at them (as far as I can tell, they still haven't caught that guy, assuming that shooting actually happened). Hey, would you like to listen to Los Angeles Police and Fire scanner traffic? It's right here!

This is not a request to be treated seriously, and we should all recognize it for what it is—an effort to keep citizenry from providing information to each other to help stay out of the clutches of law enforcement's money-grubbing traffic enforcement adventures.

Reminder: The LAPD uses technology to track people's locations via their smartphones. Turnabout is fair play.