February 8, 2019
According to BGR.com, the NYPD has sent a cease and desist letter to Google, who owns the navigation app Waze, demanding that the internet and electronic information giant no longer permit users of the Waze app to report locations of DWI checkpoints or risk legal action. The NYPD claims that the “sole purpose” in reporting such information is to help impaired or intoxicated drivers avoid detection and could be criminal conduct.
An argument could be made that reporting checkpoint locations on Waze is similar to the flashing of headlights to warn oncoming drivers of police presence, and it has been long-settled in New York that such an act is not illegal.
Should Waze or any other app permit users to share information that could be used to defeat police objectives?
One of the cooler things about Waze, which Google picked up for a cool $966 million back in 2013, is that it provides users with all sorts of additional and useful information as they travel to and fro. Sure, it has all of the mapping basics like restaurants and traffic congestion, but it also has information regarding the location of things like potholes and red light cameras.
Waze also permits users to post information regarding the location of DWI checkpoints and, not surprisingly, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is far from thrilled about that. As reported by CBS New York, the NYPD recently sent a cease and desist letter to Google asking them to remove alerts about nearby DWI checkpoints.
“This letter serves to put you on notice that the NYPD has become aware that the Waze Mobile application, a community-driven GPS navigation application owned by Google LLC, currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations on the application,” the letter reads in part.
“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,” the letter adds. “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.”
While there are a million reasons to love Waze, it’s hard to argue with the NYPD’s position on this matter. Drunk driving is abhorrent, dangerous, and typically claims the lives of more than 10,000 people per year. The last thing we need is to make it easier for drunk drivers to stay on the road and evade detection from local authorities charged with keeping the public safe.
The NYPD letter adds that they will not hesitate to pursue further legal action if Waze continues to provide what it characterizes as “irresponsible and dangerous information.”