Apple has reversed itself and approved an app that warns users of speed cameras in Washington, D.C. Initially the app was rejected because, as the Washington Post writes, “it was not legal in all of the locations where it would be available and could be used to help users break the law.”
The app uses data from public databases so there really isn’t anything illegal about it.
This isn’t the first application that empowers users against police surveillance. The Waze app, which I have written about several times, came under fire from police because it allows users to report police and highway patrolmen who are looking to catch people speeding. Or as I like to call it: a revenue generator. The police opposed the Waze app, asking Google to remove the police-reporting feature because they said it endangers police officers who might be targeted by disgruntled citizens for harm. So far, Waze has not complied with the request — this is a First Amendment issue. Waze also lets users report speed-camera locations.
What are we to make of this trend of tools to help people protect themselves from police entrapment? Is the government going too far in surveilling citizens on minor issues like traffic infractions? Is the cost to install and maintain things like speed cameras or hire police to lie in wait for speeding cars justified, or does it get passed along to taxpayers and encourage even more “citations” to foot the bill?