NEW YORK - Tech giant Google is under fire for a feature on its Waze App that allows drivers to inform each other of police checkpoints and speed cameras.
The New York City Police Department has issued a cease and desist letter demanding Google immediately remove a feature on the navigation app that allows drivers to report and post the location of DWI checkpoints, speed cameras and other enforcement measures commonly known as speed traps.
The letter was first reported by streetsblog.org.
In addition to removing the feature, the NYPD is asking Google to ensure information about DWI checkpoints is never uploaded to any of its apps.
In the letter, the NYPD says 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 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."
Amy Cohen launched the advocacy group "Families for Safe Streets" after her 12-year-old son, Sammy, was killed by a speeding driver in Brooklyn. She says police checkpoints and speed cameras have helped to reduce traffic fatalities over the years and that Google is in affect allowing some unsafe drivers to avoid detection.
"It is unconscionable what Google has done. they will have blood on their hands if someone is killed. if they're trying to share information that is designed to save lives," Cohen said.
Some critics of sobriety checkpoints argue they violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled them constitutional.
Google, defiant in its repsonse to the letter, said safety is its top priority and adds, "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."