(CBS Local) — Police across the country are expressing concern about a new feature coming to Google Maps that allows users around the world to track the real-time location of officers.
In a new effort to compete with traffic app Waze, which is owned by Google, Google Maps is adding new features to its update, including the ability to see where officers are catching speeders.
Android users have been able to report crashes, speed traps and traffic slowdowns right on the app since 2018. However, those features had been unavailable to iOS users — until last week, according to a Google blog post.
But police organizations have called for Google to hold off on releasing it, saying it could tip drunk drivers off to DWI checkpoints and encourage speeding.
Google Maps is about to get some new features that will help users report on incidents such as speed traps and accidents in an upcoming update. https://t.co/Yw1my35Ckt
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) October 23, 2019
“Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk,” the New York Police Department wrote in a letter to Google in February, demanding that Waze stop alerting users to those locations.
The National Sheriffs’ Association went even further, saying the feature puts officers at risk by letting criminals or even terrorists know where they are on a map.
“NSA is supportive of the Google Waze App but is emphatically opposed to the police locator feature within the app,” the NSA said in a statement. “There is no moral, ethical or legal reason to have the police locator button on the app.”
Google defended its speed trap warnings in a statement to PCMag.
“Safety is a top priority when developing navigation features at Google,” a company spokesperson said in February. “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.”