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NYPD Orders Google to Trash Checkpoint Warnings

First Amendment be damned!

Andrey Bayda/Dreamstime.comAndrey Bayda/Dreamstime.comThe New York City Police Department (NYPD) wants Google to trash a feature on one of its apps that lets users report drunk-driving checkpoints. Not so fast, responds Google.

The application in question is Waze, a community-based navigation app that allows users to report car accidents, traffic jams, and police activity. While there isn't a specific feature that lets people report checkpoints meant to catch intoxicated offenders, users can leave comments specifying the type of police activity, according to The New York Times.

"Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws," reads a February 2, 2019 cease-and-desist letter to Google from Ann Prunty, the NYPD's acting deputy commissioner in charge of legal matters. "The posting of such information for public consumption is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving. Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk," Prunty adds in the letter, which was first reported by StreetsBlog NYC.

I shouldn't have to point this out, but posting that information does not "only" aid intoxicated drivers. It's a help to any sober driver who wants to avoid the delays and hassle that these Fourth Amendment–shredding checkpoints impose. Indeed, there's a good chance that most of the people using the information are sober. "If you are impaired, you are not going to pay attention to that information," Helen Witty, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tells the Times.

The NYPD's concerns are shared by the National Sheriff's Association, which emphasizes on its website: "There is NO legitimate reason for Waze to have the police locator feature!" In addition to the drunk-driving aspect of the app, the organization says Waze tracks users' movements (though that's sort of the point of navigation apps). The site adds that this information "can be shared with anyone including gang members and terrorist!" (Just the one terrorist, apparently.)

In regard to drunk-driving checkpoints, the NYPD claims it "will pursue all legal remedies to prevent the continued posting of this irresponsible and dangerous information," though Prunty does not detail how. The department also doesn't say how posting DWI checkpoint information is illegal. That might be because it's not. "Much as the police may not like it, the public has a First Amendment right to warn others about police activity," the American Civil Liberties Union tells the New York Post.

Google, for its part, seems to have zero interest in complying with the NYPD's demand, which the Post notes could also apply Waze's speed camera-reporting feature. "Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google," the company said in a statement, according to WPIX. "We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they're on the road."

Google is not likely to change its stance, reports The Verge. While pressure from the Senate prompted Apple to remove some drunk-driving checkpoint apps in 2011, Google refused to fold. "Chances are, the NYPD's letter will not be the thing that makes the company change its mind," The Verge points out.

Bonus links: Some local governments really don't like it when their traffic authority gets challenged. In 2017, Reason's Eric Boehm wrote about an Oregon man who researched the effectiveness of red light cameras after his wife got a ticket. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying responded by fining him $500 for practicing engineering without a license. After he sued, he got a refund. In 2012, meanwhile, a Missouri man received a $1,000 ticket for flashing his headlights to warn fellow motorists about a speed trap. A federal judge eventually ruled in his favor.

Photo Credit: Andrey Bayda/Dreamstime.com

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Haha. Fucking love the internet.

    It allows the People to circumvent much of the unconstitutional bullshit the government does.

    Never stop at a checkpoint unless the car in front of you forces you to. Never roll your window down. If the police demand you roll your window down, ask if they have a search warrant. Other than that, never talk to the police.

    The smart cops know that any Constitutional dissent by drivers should not be pursued because they have no probable cause to make arrests. Cops depend on drivers cooperating with their violations of your civil rights to be free of search and seizure without a warrant based upon probable cause.

  • Eric||

    "Never stop at a checkpoint unless the car in front of you forces you to. Never roll your window down. If the police demand you roll your window down, ask if they have a search warrant. Other than that, never talk to the police."

    Lol. Your motto should be: "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story". It's your own cop-sucking Republican party that has trashed the 4th to the point that DUI checkpoints are perfectly legal, as long as certain "protocols" are followed.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    ^ Poor Eric. Some of his mouth foam got in his eyes so this is what he typed.

  • Quixote||

    The checkpoints are crucial for public safety, and clearly any effort to reduce their impact is a dangerous assault on social order. Amazon's use of a "speech" device to endanger the public is merely incidental, just like the use of outrageous words in the form of "parody" and impersonation to damage a reputation (however "truthfully," because we all know there is no real "truth" out there to begin with). Anything of the sort can plainly be forbidden without the slightest so-called "free speech" consequence. See the documentation of New York's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • 0x1000||

    And you're right back to the third person lack of a response. It's such a weird habit.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Also, y'all, please beware that (in addition to drunks) the NYPD is looking for unauthorized users of dangerous medical devices, like cheap plastic flutes! BEWARE!!!

    (Seems to me, Google and Waze are just "seeing something and then saying something").

    Anyway...

    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  • ||

    Okay, but does your argument that republicans once believed in unconstitutional behavior mean we should allow it to continue and accelerate under democrats that believe in unconstitutional behavior?

  • Mr. Flanders||

    "Never stop at a checkpoint unless the car in front of you forces you to."

    I'm sure that will end well.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It has for me.

    They wave me through. Every time.

    Same with driver's license checkpoints.

    Some cops even threaten to "get my license plate" as I drive thru the checkpoint. I am still waiting for those delicious baskets of candies.

  • Mr. Flanders||

    Damn you and your white privilege.

  • Truthteller1||

    Bullshit.

  • Juice||

    100% complete and utter bullshit.

  • awildseaking||

    I cannot recommend that anyone do this. Cops hate having their authority challeneged. If they're doing something illegal, let them. You're going to jail either way for disobeying and they will gladly waste your time and ruin your day. Your best bet is complying, getting along with your day, and suing/contacting your local representative to introduce legislation. It shouldn't be this way, but that's how it is.

  • ||

    They're easy as hell to avoid, unless you are too drunk to know what that funny flashy lighty thing ahead of you means.

    Just avoid them.

  • Juice||

    Record everything.

  • operagost||

    Instead of doing this, which could be argued as "suspicious" behavior worthy of an actual stop to check your credentials, just DON'T DRIVE THROUGH THE CHECKPOINT. They are required by federal law to allow you to take an alternate route, and taking the alternate route is not grounds for "reasonable suspicion".

  • Juice||

    Never roll your window down. If the police demand you roll your window down, ask if they have a search warrant.

    Yeah, that'll work.

  • 0x1000||

    "Poor Juice with his facts and logic, ruining my keyboard warrior delusions of grandeur..."

    Am I doing it right?

  • Echospinner||

    That is why I always keep a fresh pint of Jim Beam in the glovebox. The plan is if I get pulled over, crack it open and take a big swig right in front of the cop before they get the breathylizer out. That way they can't prove you had anything to drink before they stopped you.

    Also some guy told me that Cool Ranch Doritos mess up the calibration on those things so if you have a mouthful of those they can't get a reading.

    If all else fails have a doctor friend write out a prescription for medicinal alcohol and claim you have a rare blood disease requiring you to maintain a BAC above 0.1 at all times or you will die instantly.

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    Ann Prunty, the NYPD's acting deputy commissioner in charge of legal matters

    It's always fun when the people involved have names that are so appropriate.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Ann is such a bitchy name, amirite?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Also, Helen Witty.

  • Anomalous||

    She's such a prunt.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""The smart cops know that any Constitutional dissent by drivers should not be pursued because they have no probable cause to make arrests."'

    A smart NYC cop knows he can arrest you on false pretenses and if any lawsuit is filed the city pays.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Good for Google.
    Now I'll have to check out Waze.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its alright as far as driving apps go.

    Plenty of people love to report things so other drivers are alerted but few people clear the reported things as no longer applicable.

    For example- people will report a cop on side of road but people are not reporting when the cop leaves. You can tell who has Waze because they are hitting their brakes for non-existent cop radar traps.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Waze is not as reliable for driving directions as Google Maps. But it is good for user reported incidents.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Waze is not designed to be Google Maps and give you only driving directions. That is what Google Maps is for.

    Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    The reason I posted that comment is that many people do use Waze for driving directions.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Your citation fell off.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    When you use Waze it shows other Waze users around you. Just using the app gives you an idea of how many are using it in that area at that moment. I've used many times and seen many other people on the app around me.

    So I would expect the NYPD will use it to get user names and try to subpoena Google for the people's actual names.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I don't think the NYPD will get anywhere doing that. No one has a duty to them to keep exert their prensece in public.

  • Curt||

    I would love it if Google responded by removing their current icon for police. Then, replacing it with either a pig or a tiny penis. Categorize it as "other" instead of "police activity". And let people figure it out.

  • Chris_Virginia||

    This is too funny to actually implement, but I love it!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google," the company said in a statement...

    Look, if Google wants to attach a surcharge to the use of the Waze app and hand that over to law enforcement agencies as compensation for lost revenue, we'll call the whole thing even.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Back in the day if you had a CB radio, you would swear "smokie" was around every curve.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Only if you didn't understand what a mile marker is.

  • Brian||

    Google: "Sorry, NYPD: we don't 'do' privacy. You get that, right?"

  • Gasman||

    The more the police protest that information should be kept from the public, the more I think that same information should be public.
    Police should conduct a randomized test: On their own web site, post the location of some checkpoints, selected at random, and other checkpoints are not posted on the police site. Police should be blinded to assignment lest reporting bias from the field occurs (smart IT guy should be able to work out whether cops are using their department computers and phones or personal phones to check the police web site.)
    Then test the results. Might be surprising.
    Because, if policing is a science, then it is time to start acting like a science.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Police should be blinded

    I like the way you think...

  • Mr. Flanders||

    "If you are impaired, you are not going to pay attention to that information,"

    Maybe it's just me, but I am able to keep my mind just fine while I am intoxicated. Does this person really think that someone with a .08 BAC (or .05 in some state) is not going to know how to use their phone or GPS apps like waze? If that were the case, they wouldn't be able to figure out how to open their car door or turn the ignition either.

    Anti-drug and anti-alcohol activists are the most oblivious people when it comes to understanding what it is like to be intoxicated. Why do we refer to these people for policy decisions?

    I'm not saying that NYPD should be able to stop google from showing police activity on Waze.. just pointing how how dumb Helen Witty, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is.

  • ||

    Maybe it's just me, but I am able to keep my mind just fine while I am intoxicated.

    Something about getting in the car drunk and relying on Waze to know where you're going predisposes me towards disagreeing with you. I suppose if you didn't have much of a mind to begin with, you may be right.

    I'm not saying that police should be able to stop google from showing police activity on Waze... just pointing how how not exactly much brighter than Helen Witty you are.

  • Mr. Flanders||

    "Something about getting in the car drunk and relying on Waze to know where you're going predisposes me towards disagreeing with you. I suppose if you didn't have much of a mind to begin with, you may be right."

    Uh, okay but that's pretty narrow-minded of you. I use GPS every time I drive anywhere, even during my daily commute to and from work. I know how to get there by memory - but my GPS gives me live traffic updates and can re-route me to more efficient routes. Its the difference between a 50 minute commute and a 25 minute commute.

    I'm just pointing out how much of a moron you are.

  • ||

    Its the difference between a 50 minute commute and a 25 minute commute.

    This is anecdote, absolute bullshit, or you really do have no clue where you're going.

    And again, drunk on your quest to cut your 50 min. commute to work down to 25 min.? Nope, at best you incidentally leave the app on when you're drunk.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Does this person really think that someone with a .08 BAC (or .05 in some state)..."

    Unlike mad.casual, I get what you are saying... The BAC levels are set WAAAY too low in some states. It's that simple...

  • ||

    Yeah, I completely missed that part. I guess I just generally tend to know where I'm going, tend not to drink if I don't, and have never had the need to walk the not-so-tight rope of being 'close' to drunk and in need of GPS.

    It just seems like a niche that wasn't that big before Uber and would always be largely populated by people who insist they can quit drinking any time they want to.

  • Mr. Flanders||

    So... you don't realize that there are plenty of reasons to use GPS outside of "I don't know how to get there."

    I mean, damn, the article is even talking about one of those other uses - to know where police will try to catch you with a .08 BAC (even though that wouldn't even get near "drunk" status for me).

    You can also use GPS for - get this - live traffic updates! You can save time by using your GPS every trip. It can let you know about accidents, traffic congestion, road closures, etc.

    I knew that people here were part of an older demographic, but damn, some of you guys are really stuck in the past/clueless.

  • Mr. Flanders||

    Thank you SQRLSY. I'm also pointing out that a drunk person can use a GPS app like Waze. I wouldn't have any issues using it 6-7 drinks in. At that point, I wouldn't drive... but still, I'm just pointing out that Helen Witty is an idiot (and, unintentionally, that mad.casual is an even dimmer bulb).

  • ||

    At that point, I wouldn't drive... but still, I'm just pointing out that Helen Witty is an idiot (and, unintentionally, that mad.casual is an even dimmer bulb).

    We're morons because you actually cede the point that GPS, drunk, and driving is something you wouldn't reasonably attempt?

  • BlueStarDragon||

    Back in the day the police used to complain about CB's as well. And one for old time sake " Theirs a smokey 10 20 under the KFC sign ". It has been way to long since I used CB jargon. So I might not be right on the nose.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Convoy > Smokey and The Bandit imo

  • Dillinger||

    Jackie Gleason tips the scale.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Convoy was produced and directed by Sam Peckinpah, after he went senile.

  • Ron||

    Smokey and the Bandit came out the same year as star wars and made more money

  • James Pollock||

    "Smokey and the Bandit came out the same year as star wars and made more money"

    In the sense that the box office receipts for Star Wars totaled more than twice as much as the total box office receipts for SatB, I guess.

  • SQRLSY One||

    There's that, and us old-timers in the old days... I have not seen it done lately, but don't do long-distance driving that much any more... Is to flash your high beams at oncoming traffic when there's a copper right behind you, to warn them. Is that illegal in some states? I don't know...

  • SQRLSY One||

    OK, look 4 or so posts down... My next post down... Flashing your lights is mentioned at the tail end of the article above. Court said flashing is OK!!!

    I like it when the babes flash their headlights at me as well!!!!

  • Libertymike||

    Most Righteous, how are you?

    I bet lots of babes flash their headlights at you!!!

    I would ask you about the Super Bowl, but you have previously informed me that you are not a hockey fan.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Most mahvelous, thanks, and you?

    You remember well!!! Yes, I am not at all a sports fan. In the USA today, that makes me almost like a communist... Oh, wait, communists are getting popular now. Maybe it makes me more like a... What is nearly-universally frowned upon? Maybe it makes me more like a person who says insensitive things!

  • operagost||

    10-20 means, "What is your location," so saying "Theirs[sic] a smokey 10 20 under the KFC sign" is nonsense.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>the effectiveness of red light cameras

    they cause accidents. Dallas tried those ... after awhile it got out they couldn't enforce the charges and everyone stopped paying the tickets

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I believe there have been Supreme Court decisions affirming the right to flash headlights to warn oncoming traffic of cops ahead; of people to stand by the roadside waving signs warning of cops ahead.

    NYPD hasn't got a leg to stand on.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    They so seldom do....

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, mentioned in the very end of the article above...

    In 2012, meanwhile, a Missouri man received a $1,000 ticket for flashing his headlights to warn fellow motorists about a speed trap. A federal judge eventually ruled in his favor.

    http://reason.com/blog/2014/02.....arn-of-spe

  • SQRLSY One||

    Also this: When confronted with stupid and baseless law enforcement actions, creative thinking is highly useful. I did ***NOT*** just flash my headlights to warn of a speed trap! I did it because, from random time to other random time, the Holy Spirit of Brotherly Christian Love, or Cosmic Caramel Consciousness, or some such, enters my mind, and I then feel religiously compelled to flash my lights at my fellow travelers to convey "God Loves you", or some such. "No, officer, my flashing lights had NOTHING to do with your speed trap"!

    Then if taken to court, the judge(s) juries etc. will be faced with the uncomfortable prospect of proving what was or was not in your mind at the time! (As well as religious freedoms).

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    I'm afraid this could tarnish the reputation of the NYPD.

    Wait, never mind.

  • Ragnarredbeard||

    I'd tell them to pound sand, and not in some legalese language.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Are the police in NY supposedly required to post/publish the location of such checkpoints beforehand? I believe that some states require this, don't know about The Peoples Republic of Shut Up And Do What Cuomo Tells You.

  • majil||

    Cheer when cops are shot in the face

  • Tony||

    I've always had the presence of mind to notice a checkpoint ahead while there were still turns I could make to evade it. Now I just make other people drive me everywhere. One can't be expected to be sober.

  • Cosmo Man||

    In Missouri, at least in the St Louis metro area, the police put out notices of where the checkpoints are going to be. If you can't beat Waze you might as well join them.

  • Duke of url||

    The people we pay to enforce the law seem to have the most trouble respecting the highest law of the land, the one that applies to them, the Constitution.
    Ann Prunty should be shitcanned for even suggesting that free people may not communicate whatever we want, let alone about unconstitutional govt activity.
    The National Sheriff Association's retarded opinion is irrelevant as well.

  • Rich||

    In regard to drunk-driving checkpoints, the NYPD claims it "will pursue all legal remedies to prevent the continued posting of this irresponsible and dangerous information," though Prunty does not detail how.

    Pulling over Google executives for "reckless driving"?

  • SQRLSY One||

    But-but-but... But wreckless driving is better than wreckfull driving, you Silly Wrabbitts!!!!

  • Zeb||

    Don't the police have to announce checkpoints like this publicly before hand? I thought that was part of how they justified them as not violating the 4th amendment.

  • Uncle Jay||

    The NYPD and Google should check points looking our for people who engage in the politically incorrect activity known as thinking for yourself.
    Its easy.
    Just pull over a random drive and ask the operator of the vehicle what he thinks of socialism.
    If there is any doubt or negative remarks, the driver will be taken out and shot in the head twice...and then the operator's family will be charged for the amount of the bullets spent.
    It doesn't get any more fair than that.
    God bless America.

  • Truthteller1||

    The police will not bully their way through this one. It's here to stay. Checkpoints are police state weapons.

  • Two Buck Chuck||

    All they want is the money. It's all they ever wanted. Public safety? LOL. If they care about public safety, taking guns and badges away from double digit IQ sociopaths would be a good place to start.

  • Two Buck Chuck||

    NYPD should stick to taking bribes for gun permits. It's what they do best.

  • TommyInIdaho||

    If you can fire up your phone and use Waze you're OK to drive...

  • James Pollock||

    '"Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws,' reads a February 2, 2019 cease-and-desist letter to Google from Ann Prunty, the NYPD's acting deputy commissioner in charge of legal matters"

    It sounds like Ann Prunty, the NYPD's acting deputy commissioner in charge of legal matters, has never heard of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. If individuals post in a manner that is engaging in criminal conduct, then the NYPD should arrest them, and then they should be prosecuted. But Google isn't engaged in criminal conduct.

  • CGN||

    That's the police alright. TO HELL with Constitutional freedoms, we've got money to make! I was threatened with arrest (disorderly conduct, as B.S. law if ever there was one) just for talking to my wife in court in a way the cop (a.k.a., lying turd) didn't like! Imagine a cop trying to arrest you for FREE SPEECH!! Well, cops do it all the time, and, to be honest, I both trust and fear criminals less than ANY cop ANYWHERE.

  • ||

    Actually, check points for DUI are yesterday's technology. The smart car of tomorrow will sense your inebriation and refuse to go anywhere under your control. If you try to over ride its judgement, it will call the cops on you itself, maybe even lock the doors and not let you out until they arrive.

  • ||

    BTW a toll booth is a form of checkpoint. Maybe state lawmakers could require that toll payers roll down their windows and let an automated probe take a quick sniff of the air inside each vehicle. Instant probably cause could then be established for the driver to pull over to the highway patrol sobriety test line.

  • Alan@.4||

    In my considered opinion, as an ex New Yorker, I departed that vale of tears in 1967, possibly before Ms. Prunty was born, She and the NYPD might be advised to Piss Up That Proverbial Rope.

  • Pat001||

    When I was living in DC I depended on Waze to locate red light and speed cameras. Saved me a bunch of money. In Virginia where radar detectors are illegal, Waze warnings will help avoid speeding tickets. If you don't have Waze you can wear a Klan robe & blackface and the Virginia troopers will let you go.

  • jdgalt1||

    "Drunk driving checkpoints," even when their actual target is drunk drivers (and quite often it's not), are unconstitutional and have no right to exist in the US, and cops who operate them have no right to keep their badges. Precautionary law enforcement has no place; the time to arrest a drunk driver is after he wrecks, or at least drives or walks so erratically that a video of it is sufficient to get a jury to convict the person.

    Police can start expecting cooperation from citizens again when they stop choosing to be our enemies.

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