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Snapchat’s Snap Map stokes privacy fears

GPS tracking apps are already on law enforcement’s radar.

“It creates sort of a flash mob mentality,” said Michael Downing, a former Los Angeles Police chief who worked in counter-terrorism. He now works as an executive vice president for Prevent Advisors, a consulting firm.

Downing says these apps have the potential to create what are known as “soft targets,” areas where terrorists attack a big event attended by civilians. There is greater attention on them after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured more than 100 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England back in May.

“Soft targets are something we are trying to defend against right now, not only inside of stadiums and arenas but hardening the outside core where you have less control,” Downing said.

Downing advises people to be aware of their surroundings instead of focusing on their phones. He also advises parents to talk to their kids about potential risks.

“The safety of our community is very important to us,” a Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNBC via e-mail.

“With Snap Map, location-sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time,” the statement read. “It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”

NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap, Inc., the parent company of SnapChat.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.

This article was reblogged from CNBC Tech.

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