Published March 20, 2013
If you live in Mexico’s capital city or plan on visiting any time soon, it may be a good idea to let the cops keep an eye on you.
At least that’s what Mexico City officials believed when they commissioned the Mi Policía app (or My Police in English) for Android and iOS. The new app, which was released by the Ministry of Public Security (SSP), tracks your location while in the Federal District and can contact a local police officer with the simple press of a button.
Mi Policía is a simple program that has one function to notify the police and a second function that shows one's location on a Google map alongside the police quadrant and the threat level within the given zone.
The technology magazine Wired reported that the two problems that arise with the app are the cost for international users and the release of sensitive data that could potentially be compromised by hackers or outside sources.
Indeed, Mi Policia can “read data about your contacts stored on your tablet, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals,” according to its permissions description. This worries some who see this as an invasion of private property similar to that with the location service function on an iPhone.
“This doesn’t mean the cops will read your emails while visiting the city, but they could,” Wired.com's Robert Beckhusen wrote.
Also, if the app user has a smartphone from the U.S. (or any country outside of Mexico), then a domestic data plan is needed; and if the police don’t pick up the phone –a reasonable worry in Mexico– the app won’t automatically redirect the call to Mexico’s version of 911, called 066.
Still, the SSP argues that Mi Policía will make the city safer and build a better connection with the community that has at times been at odds with the police force. But some are still wary.
“In order to build trust with the police, the Security Ministry comes up with an app that tracks users and reads their data,” Beckhusen wrote. “It builds closer bonds — with a community that may not want to give that data away.”