Apple boots crime reporting app Vigilante from App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2016
Less than a week after its launch, Apple has banned a crime-reporting app called Vigilante from the App Store, which may have raised concerns over potential risks and abuses.




The app, developed by Sp0n, was initially released for New York City residents, and is meant to notify them about crimes reported via 911, The Guardian said. Users near an incident are alerted, and can even record live video.

Sp0n explained the ban only by saying that Apple was concerned about content.

"The team is working with Apple to resolve the issue and they are confident the app will be made available in the near future," a spokeswoman added. "Vigilante will introduce an Android version of the app in the upcoming weeks with plans to expand in additional cities later this year."

Apple does have rules against apps that could put users in danger, though, and indeed a promotional video for the app shows people rushing to a scene where a woman is being assaulted. In reality, the attacker could have turned on his witnesses and hurt or killed them.



Apple might also have been concerned about people using the app to harass others. While its crime reports stem from 911, people could theoretically start shooting video of innocent people, or even trying to detain or attack them. Racial profiling has been an issue in some other iOS apps, like Nextdoor, whose developer ultimately had to take steps to prevent reporting suspicious activity simply based on skin color.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    am8449am8449 Posts: 343member
    This is an interesting idea. A crowd-sourced policing system of sorts. Sometimes all it takes to stop a crime is for the criminal to be reminded that he's being watched. I can imagine how this app would raise lots of red flags for Apple though. I hope this concept or some form of it makes it out the other side. As a resident of New York City, I'd be really interested to see how an app like this affects my city. I think it's worth experimenting with.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    technotechno Posts: 699member
    It really is a fascinating idea. It does bring up so many potential problems though. Will the "vigilantes" get hurt or will they hurt the wrong person? Will the police shoot the vigilante thinking it is the perp? 
  • Reply 3 of 22
    Perhaps they should rename the app "Samaritan"?

    But seriously, it's amazing the hoops people must jump through in order to protect themselves, versus having sensible concealed carry policies in these large coastal cities. Police can only mop up after the crime has already been committed.
    razorpitrandominternetperson
  • Reply 4 of 22
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,570member

    First I think the primary purpose of the app was to keep people out of harms way, telling people where they should not be.

    Okay being a little more cynical here, does any one think people will rush to help someone, I am sorry, most people really choose not to get involved these days. Now the fact the apps allows you to record video makes it sounds more like watching the train wreck which most people are interested in and record what the police are doing these days and the bad behavior we now see from people standing around watching what is happening.

    They just need to integrate app this into Waze to make sure I do not drive into an area where I probably should not be.

    edited November 2016
  • Reply 5 of 22
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    This isn't ripe for abuse. 

    Does the app have a feature that also shows where anyone wearing a hoodie or long, black trenchcoat is located? 
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 6 of 22
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,264member
    From the video the purpose of the app is to intervene, hopefully filling the void between the time of a call for service and the arrival of the police. With nationwide cutbacks in staffing, these intervals can often be too long, with help being too late.

    This is a fascinating concept, which at it's best, could be a life saver. The news occasionally has stories about someone risking their safety intervening in a crime and saving someone from injury or death. In best-case scenarios, that's how it should work, given that there will always be perpetrators and victims.

    But this concept is also rife with pitfalls. First is the problem of untrained responders being hurt. This can happen when rushing to an incident. They may hurt themselves or another innocent party. The video showed a bicyclist racing to help, and not someone in a car, for good reason.

    Arriving 'on-scene' then what. Does the suspect have a knife or a gun? Are they violent? Does the sudden arrival scare a would-be robber/mugger into becoming a killer?

    Second, the possibility of the first good-samaritan (that was funny, btw!) to be mistaken for the perpetrator by the second or third good-samaritan or police. That would be confusing and possibly dangerous.

    Third, there's the very real tendency (not just possibility) for vigilantism to incite mob mentality. Against an armed suspect, someone will get hurt, not just the suspect. And 'mobism' tends to forget the punishment must fit the crime. Some people love 'street justice' and aren't all that critical about dispensing it or the consequences.

    Fourth, the potential for abuse is too great to my thinking. This would be even easier than 'SWATting' someone, though I don't know how common is the latter practice.


    This can easily become the polar opposite of infamous cases where people stood by and did nothing while a helpless victim was injured or killed. Every situation is different and crowd-sourcing untrained help is not a reliable or viable alternative.

    With cellphones being everywhere, figuratively and literally shining a light and bearing witness, as in testifying, are what the concerned citizen should be doing. Make the call to EMS, don't leave it for someone else. 
    afrodri
  • Reply 7 of 22
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,124member
    Perhaps they should rename the app "Samaritan"?

    But seriously, it's amazing the hoops people must jump through in order to protect themselves, versus having sensible concealed carry policies in these large coastal cities. Police can only mop up after the crime has already been committed.
    As they say, the police are minutes late when seconds count.  That's minutes if you're lucky! 

    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 166unconfirmed, member
    That reminded me of the NERVE movie. It could work!! At least here in Brazil, every time I call the police it takes them around 25~30 minutes to arrive. That happened when I reported people Shooting a man in front of my apartment. And the other time I got mugged they never came.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    That reminded me of the NERVE movie. It could work!! At least here in Brazil, every time I call the police it takes them around 25~30 minutes to arrive. That happened when I reported people Shooting a man in front of my apartment. And the other time I got mugged they never came.
    Wow, you either have some really bad luck or need to move! At least you have beaches full of hot chicks...
  • Reply 10 of 22
    "Vigilante" is a great name if you want to catch someone's attention or shock them.  It's a terrible name if you're trying to establish a reputable service.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    ronnronn Posts: 328member
    What could go wrong?! Lots! This could be all the rage in Gentrified Brooklyn --

    http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/crime_safety_website_racial_profiling

    According to Porter, Nextdoor users have singled out minorities for engaging in “suspicious” activities such as walking down the sidewalk, driving down a street, making a U-turn and driving too slowly.

    http://www.dailydot.com/via/white-people-apps-racial-profiling-groupme/

    What happens when app created to help ensure personal safety perpetuate bigotry instead?

    http://valleywag.gawker.com/smiling-young-white-people-make-app-for-avoiding-black-1617775138

    Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined? I ask because the two enterprising white entrepreneurs above just made yet another app for avoiding non-white areas of your town—and it's really taking off!

    http://fox40.com/2016/05/12/racial-profiling-claims-lead-to-changes-for-nextdoor-app/

    To combat vague posts that refer to a person’s race but give no specific identifying details about their appearance or suspicious activity, Nextdoor administrators have put in place new posting guidelines.
    jlandd
  • Reply 12 of 22
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    ronn said:
    What could go wrong?! Lots! This could be all the rage in Gentrified Brooklyn --

    http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/crime_safety_website_racial_profiling

    According to Porter, Nextdoor users have singled out minorities for engaging in “suspicious” activities such as walking down the sidewalk, driving down a street, making a U-turn and driving too slowly.

    http://www.dailydot.com/via/white-people-apps-racial-profiling-groupme/

    What happens when app created to help ensure personal safety perpetuate bigotry instead?

    http://valleywag.gawker.com/smiling-young-white-people-make-app-for-avoiding-black-1617775138

    Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined? I ask because the two enterprising white entrepreneurs above just made yet another app for avoiding non-white areas of your town—and it's really taking off!

    http://fox40.com/2016/05/12/racial-profiling-claims-lead-to-changes-for-nextdoor-app/

    To combat vague posts that refer to a person’s race but give no specific identifying details about their appearance or suspicious activity, Nextdoor administrators have put in place new posting guidelines.
    Why does everything have to be racist? It's no secret black neighborhoods tend to have very high crime rates. There is nothing racist about wanting to avoid a high crime area. 
    razorpitentropys
  • Reply 13 of 22
    am8449 said:
    This is an interesting idea. A crowd-sourced policing system of sorts. Sometimes all it takes to stop a crime is for the criminal to be reminded that he's being watched. I can imagine how this app would raise lots of red flags for Apple though. I hope this concept or some form of it makes it out the other side. As a resident of New York City, I'd be really interested to see how an app like this affects my city. I think it's worth experimenting with.
    As interesting as stupid. Reports would come either from legitimate sources that may interfere with police action or from fools who try to play game or use as diversion means or anything along thses lines. Stop being naive that help solving problems. It does not solve problem the same as more gun control laws do not solve problems of gun killing - criminals ignore laws.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    ronn said:
    What could go wrong?! Lots! This could be all the rage in Gentrified Brooklyn --

    http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/crime_safety_website_racial_profiling

    According to Porter, Nextdoor users have singled out minorities for engaging in “suspicious” activities such as walking down the sidewalk, driving down a street, making a U-turn and driving too slowly.

    http://www.dailydot.com/via/white-people-apps-racial-profiling-groupme/

    What happens when app created to help ensure personal safety perpetuate bigotry instead?

    http://valleywag.gawker.com/smiling-young-white-people-make-app-for-avoiding-black-1617775138

    Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined? I ask because the two enterprising white entrepreneurs above just made yet another app for avoiding non-white areas of your town—and it's really taking off!

    http://fox40.com/2016/05/12/racial-profiling-claims-lead-to-changes-for-nextdoor-app/

    To combat vague posts that refer to a person’s race but give no specific identifying details about their appearance or suspicious activity, Nextdoor administrators have put in place new posting guidelines.
    Imagine moving in a minority neighborhood and not expecting said minorities to be out in their own neighborhood. Talk about a sense of entitlement.
    ronnafrodri
  • Reply 15 of 22
    ronnronn Posts: 328member
    Why does everything have to be racist? It's no secret black neighborhoods tend to have very high crime rates. There is nothing racist about wanting to avoid a high crime area. 
    In the storiesI linked to and the specific portions I posted, it was racist. Reporting people simply because they're not white is racist. Racial profiling is also counter productive and leads to wasted resources, which makes good law enforcement much more difficult than it should be.
    dasanman69afrodri
  • Reply 16 of 22
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    ronn said:
    What could go wrong?! Lots! This could be all the rage in Gentrified Brooklyn --

    http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/crime_safety_website_racial_profiling

    According to Porter, Nextdoor users have singled out minorities for engaging in “suspicious” activities such as walking down the sidewalk, driving down a street, making a U-turn and driving too slowly.

    http://www.dailydot.com/via/white-people-apps-racial-profiling-groupme/

    What happens when app created to help ensure personal safety perpetuate bigotry instead?

    http://valleywag.gawker.com/smiling-young-white-people-make-app-for-avoiding-black-1617775138

    Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined? I ask because the two enterprising white entrepreneurs above just made yet another app for avoiding non-white areas of your town—and it's really taking off!

    http://fox40.com/2016/05/12/racial-profiling-claims-lead-to-changes-for-nextdoor-app/

    To combat vague posts that refer to a person’s race but give no specific identifying details about their appearance or suspicious activity, Nextdoor administrators have put in place new posting guidelines.
    Why does everything have to be racist? It's no secret black neighborhoods tend to have very high crime rates. There is nothing racist about wanting to avoid a high crime area. 
    Moving into the neighborhood isn't exactly avoiding it. 
    ronnafrodri
  • Reply 17 of 22
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    techno said:
    It really is a fascinating idea. It does bring up so many potential problems though. Will the "vigilantes" get hurt or will they hurt the wrong person? Will the police shoot the vigilante thinking it is the perp? 
    You mean like this? 


    ronn
  • Reply 18 of 22
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,712member
    I think there are definitely opportunities for such a product to be usd for good and evil. It reminds me of he tru view goggles in the DAVID Brin novel Earth where it was used by old people to intimidate youth, by trying to provoke them into a crime.
    it would also provide a very interesting database for decisions on where to live and where government policing resources should be allocated (something the cops or the government wouldn't want you to know). And yes, it would probably show up some troublesome cultural issues for certain demographics that many people would prefer be downplayed. The question is should it be used for such purposes, because it will.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    jbdragon said:
    Perhaps they should rename the app "Samaritan"?

    But seriously, it's amazing the hoops people must jump through in order to protect themselves, versus having sensible concealed carry policies in these large coastal cities. Police can only mop up after the crime has already been committed.
    As they say, the police are minutes late when seconds count.  That's minutes if you're lucky! 

    I've witnessed my share of both major and minor crimes (not including murder, fortunately) but in most instances, it was not clear what was going on until it was too late. Only several times I witnessed crimes in progress and intervened, and in both cases suddenly became aware of the risk to my own well-being. I don't open (or concealed) carry.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Their target market is actually the ironman, spiderman, catwoman, so they will handle it. But then, they also don't need it since they are super powered already.
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