The police department is demanding the multinational tech giant stop posting DWI checkpoint locations on Waze, a popular Global Positioning System phone app - and is warning that app users who reveal those locations might face criminal charges. But the app's police reporting feature allows users to leave detailed comments.
Google never announced that the features had been added to its apps, but Mashable reported in mid-January that users were reporting audio warnings of upcoming speed cameras during Maps-guided trips. The NYPD is none too pleased about the sneaky drunk driving hack: On Saturday, it hit Google with a sternly-worded letter, accusing the tech giant of tacitly undermining the city's goal of Vision Zero, a NY free of traffic fatalities.
Waze continued to justify the feature's existence.
'We've also seen police encourage such reporting as it serves as both a warning to drivers, as well as a way to highlight police work that keeps roadways safe.
In a statement Wednesday, Google gave no indication it would remove checkpoint locations from Waze. According to the document obtained by, the NYPD is specifically concerned about the listing of police DWI checkpoints.More news: Amazon invests in autonomous vehicle startup Aurora
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Some high-profile sports starts were busted for driving under the influence recently. It's putting "significant resources" into the effort, the letter said, and Waze users are gumming it up by giving away their unannounced road blocks and thereby helping drunk drivers evade them. With Waze people can tell each other that they are going to have a speed trap or even a roadblock for DUI/DWI.
The NYPD sent a cease and desist letter to Google over the weekend. Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.
Waze, which has been around since 2007, was acquired by Google in 2013.
As noted by The Verge, Apple banned some DUI avoidance apps back in 2011 following pressure from senators, and it now only allows applications that show location information "published by law enforcement agencies".
People who drive drunk might love the crowdsourced DWI checkpoint alerts you can get on Waze. In 2015, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck criticized the application and claimed that its existence could jeopardize the safety of police officers as it is "not always in the public's interest to know where police are operating".