Microsoft Corp. is garnering criticism for a patent it filed for an "Avoid Ghetto" GPS app. The app, which links up with your GPS or smartphone, immediately notifies you when you are nearing a neighborhood with high crime statistics.
For example, if you are driving through a safe neighborhood (statistically speaking) of Brooklyn, N.Y., and are nearing Brownsville, the app will most likely alert you. The same applies if you are driving somewhere near Southeast D.C.
The app has its share of critics, including Tammy Chin, author of Technology and the Logic of American Racism, who told AOL that the app could be considered racist. "It's pretty appalling. Of course, an application like this defines crime pretty narrowly, since all crimes happen in all kinds of neighborhoods. I can't imagine that there aren't perpetrators of domestic violence, petty and insignificant drug possession, fraud, theft and rape in every area."
The app is absolutely ludicrous, and Microsoft should be ashamed of itself. To echo Chin's sentiment, why don't we have an app for young black males who are accosted by the police in New York City every day (and other areas across the country) that allows them to map blocks where police pull over or stop people most frequently? Additionally, what happens if someone does use this technology and goes through a neighborhood that's supposedly safe and gets robbed? Does that mean he or she can sue the company?
Word of advice, Microsoft: Scrap this project now because headaches can arise from it in so many different forms.