The New York Police Department is reportedly trying to get Waze to disable a popular feature of its navigation app.
According to CBS New York, the NYPD sent a cease and desist letter to Google demanding that it remove the ability for users to submit reports about DWI checkpoints on the app because it creates dangerous conditions for drivers on New York roads.
Waze has long allowed users to submit reports about road conditions, traffic, and the location of police officers and DWI checkpoints. Those alerts can then be viewed by other Waze users while they’re on the road. Google purchased the crowd-sourced traffic and navigation app back in 2013.
“Individuals who post the location 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 and other relevant criminal and traffic law,” the letter reads.
It goes on to state the public posting the location of DWI checkpoints is “irresponsible” because it could allow drunk drivers to “evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving” — putting them, their passengers, and the public at risk.
Interestingly, while CBS New York posted a link to the letter, that link is now dead. But an NYPD spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo that the department did indeed send the letter.
For its part, a Google spokesperson told CBS New York in a statement that “safety is a top priority when developing navigation features” at the firm.
“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,” the representative said.
While driving drunk isn’t something anyone should do, Gizmodo points out that the NYPD likely can’t legally enforce the demand to take the feature off of Waze.
Unless Google was found to be “intentionally encouraging users to help each other get away with breaking the law,” the Waze feature would likely be safeguarded under freedom of speech protections.
The Mountain View firm also recently launched a new feature that alerts drivers to the location of police speed cameras. That feature has also apparently been added to Google Maps as well as Waze.