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A new Microsoft phone app that helps GPS devices “avoid the ghetto,” or steer clear of unsafe neighborhoods has drawn criticism.
The phone feature tracks crime rates and local weather to help drivers planning their route, but the controversy arises from the fact that the app avoids certain areas due to socio-economic or racial make-up.
Sarah E. Chinn, author of Technology and the Logic of American Racism, states that the app might be skewed toward discriminating against certain demographics. She points out that white-collar crime might not register on the app, which leads Microsoft to define crime as “products of race and class identity.”
However, many believe that drivers have the right to take the safest and best route possible, whether it involves avoiding bad neighborhoods, being alerted of accident-prone intersections, or weather changes. The issue of safety though gets touchy when race is involved.
Microsoft has declined to comment.