Police Release A New App That Shouts ‘Stop It’ At Molesters. It’s A Huge Hit In Japan

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A Tokyo police smart phone application designed to scare off molesters is becoming a huge hit in Japan for women who may be too timid to notify people when they are being groped on subway trains.

The app —Digi Police — has been downloaded more than 237,000 times, according to police official Keiko Toyamine. “Thanks to its popularity, the number is increasing by some 10,000 every month,” he told The Japan Times in early May. When activated, the Digi Police app shouts “stop it” at top volume.

Groping in the country’s packed metro system is a problem, officials say. There were 900 groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo’s trains in 2017, according to data from Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. “But it’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Toyamine, noting that women are often too scared to come forward.

The app could help victims, experts believe. “Molesters tend to target those who appear shy and reluctant to lodge a police complaint,” Akiyoshi Saito, a social worker who works to rehabilitate former molesters, told reporters. The Japan Times quoted several citizens who say they plan on downloading the app.

Reina Oishi, a 21-year-old student, told reporters: “I want to download the app as I have been groped so many times.” The app’s success and benefits come as critics haggle over what they see as the creepy elements of this type of technology. (RELATED: Google App Allows People To Report Blasphemy To Indonesian Government) 

A Huawei smartphone is seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration taken May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Google and other big tech companies have come under fire recently for creating applications that some believe violate people’s privacy. Google launched an application in 2018 allowing people to report supposed instances of blasphemy to the Indonesian government. Indonesia’s anti-blasphemy laws target “those who disgrace a religion” or who otherwise express “hostility” to religion.

Media reports in March also showed that a Google feature in the company’s app store allowed Saudi men to track the whereabouts of women. Saudis can use the app to interact with the state — but it also allows Saudi men to grant and rescind travel permission for women, and pings men when women leave the country.

Google never responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for response about the nature of those apps at the time of reporting.

Media reports in 2017 showed that apps like Uber, Spotify, and Tinder contain third-party tracking codes, meaning personal information of users is collectible, and can be subsequently used for advertisements and services. More than 75 percent of the roughly 300 apps analyzed contain these trackers, Yale University’s Privacy Lab showed in 2017.

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