NYPD asks Google to remove DUI checkpoints from their map application Waze
According to Engadget, the NYPD is requesting that Google, the parent company of the crowdsourced traffic and map application Waze, remove any notice of their DUI checkpoints. To this end, they sent the tech giant a cease and desist letter, which has been obtained by CBS New York, stating that they believe this feature makes it harder for them to keep the roads safe. Waze also features a system that notifies users of speed cameras on a given stretch of road, but the NYPD seems to think they can apply more public pressure against a system that allows users to avoid checkpoints set up to stop drinking and driving.
“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 reads. “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.”
However, Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s national president, Helen Witty told the New York Times, “If you are impaired, you are not going to pay attention to that information… We want these things publicized, one of the major efforts is education… The goal is to make everyone aware that if you drink, don’t drive, and if you drive, don’t drink.”
Google, for their part, has indicated no intention to comply with the demand from the NYPD to eliminate this feature from Waze. They told the New York Times that safety was a “top priority” and “informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road.”
Google has faced pressure from the NYPD or other police departments before, often alleging that its apps that detailing the position of the police are hazards to public or officer safety. The NYPD attempted to pressure Google to get rid of the ability for users to share police locations on the app in 2015 following the shooting of two officers, but that attempt was not successful.
In 2011, Senator Tom Udall asked Apple and Google at a hearing why the two companies had DUI avoidance apps in their stores, but it was not enough to get Apple to remove some apps. (Officially, Apple’s position is that their apps can only display checkpoints that have already been published by law enforcement, which covers the majority of apps.)