This application turns any citizen into a policeman… and that causes some problems

News hardware This application turns any citizen into a policeman… and that causes some problems

Hell is paved with good intentions. A person has coded an application with the objective of making our lives better: to make our smartphones mobile radars, therefore each person a policeman. Not everything went as planned for Speedcam Anywhere.

Speedcam Anywhere: what is the controversial application on IOS and Android?

You understood it thanks to the intro: the Speedcam Anywhere application is used to estimate the speed of a vehicle with a high level of accuracy. The principle of a road radar what.

This app was clearly not created by novices. Behind its lines of code hides a team of artificial intelligence experts from several universities in the United Kingdom.

By combining the computing power and the very good sensors of our modern smartphones, it is possible to achieve real technical prowess. According to the developers, if you use the app in “Pro” mode, the margin of error is only 3.2 km/h. In classic mode, it can be larger.

The idea of ​​the team behind the development of Speedcam Anywhere is clear: to encourage you to drive more slowly because anyone on the side of the road could report you. There is an assumed objective to have this tool validated by the authorities of as many countries as possible. Every person with a phone would literally get police power.

For the moment, that is not the case. The app is not recognized by police services in the UK or elsewhere, so it is not officially a speed camera. Today, Speedcam Anywhere is only used to report violations, not to punish them.

According to the creators, even without police recognition, the app remains useful. Why ? Because it can make it possible to identify the places most at risk in order to reinforce the control of the forces of order on these precise points.

Obviously, on the side of the drivers, it does not pass at all.

The creators of the application, who have always wished to remain anonymous, then received tons of “abusive emails”. Behind this euphemizing expression, one suspects that there is a real campaign of harassment. However, the original intention is laudable: it is to find a new way to limit tragedies at the wheel.

Turning everyone into a policeman: the wrong good idea?

The Speedcam Anywhere application was launched in March 2022. From its debut, it received an impressive number of reviews. The affair took on such proportions that the very famous British newspaper The Guardian interviewed one of the creators of Speedcam Anywhere, who spoke under a pseudonym. One of the sentences of this interview sums up the controversy quite well:

While there are some people who think it’s a good idea, others think it takes us straight to a state of mass surveillance.

Also according to this interview in The Guardian, a lot of messages received by the developers referred to authoritarian nations in which denunciation is encouraged.

What shocks is not so much the fear of receiving more fines, but what this kind of app implies politically. People don’t like to feel watched and are afraid of personal revenge attempts or false accusations.

This application turns any citizen into a policeman... and that causes some problems

Faced with the growing controversy, even if it is not in their habits or in their business interests, Google and Apple have had to position themselves.

  • Google, which owns the Store on which all Android smartphone applications are downloaded, first tried to play it fine… but it failed.

Officials of the Google Play Store claimed that it was impossible to use a smartphone to estimate the speed of a vehicle so finely. That way, they can tell the app is a scam, so off the charts, and kick it out of the Store. Faced with this decision, Speedcam Anywhere provided Google engineers with all the proof that their app was indeed working. Caught at its own game, Google had no choice but to allow Speedcam Anhywhere to be published again.

  • Apple, on the other hand, simply didn’t release the app.

The firm at the apple has given no reason, it reigns alone on its App Store and assumes it completely. This time, the creators of Speedcam Anywhere have only their eyes to cry: they say they are disappointed because “it’s a technology that could save lives”.

This application turns any citizen into a policeman... and that causes some problems

Technology is often a political subject: even in France

Tech is becoming more and more part of our daily lives, and this raises a lot of questions that need to be decided. The protection of our personal data on the Internet is a subject in itself. Today, we go much further than that.

Behind the recent Speedcam Anywhere controversy, there is a real social issue around the protection of privacy in general and mass surveillance. And do not believe that these debates are not reserved for foreign countries.

In France, there are already quite a few applications made to denounce “incivility”. We think for example of “Allô mairie” or “Dans ma rue”. Badly parked cars, wee on a sidewalk… there’s something for just about anything and everything.

Ironically, there are also many applications to the totally opposite philosophy. For example, Waze is a hit all over the world, and this GPS has a mobile and invisible speed camera reporting function. Here, people help each other avoid fines, not give them.

The debate is open.

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This application turns any citizen into a policeman… and that causes some problems

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