August 12, 2009

Offender Locator iPhone app makes a partial comeback

8-12-2009 National:

After Apple's surprise removal from the App Store last week of a sex-offender-location app called Offender Locator, the app is back in the store again.

In an interview with Trip Wakefield of ThinAir Wireless, the maker of Offender Locator, Wakefield confirms that the app was pulled for legal reasons. According to Wakefield, ThinAir was successful in quickly contacting Apple, which had removed the app because it was possible that the app violated California law. Once ThinAir removed access to any data pertaining to the state of California from the app's database, the change took place immediately for all previous and future purchasers of the app.

ThinAir is currently working with an attorney licensed in California to determine whether or not Offender Violator breaks any laws in that state. In the event that it doesn't, customers will regain access to the offender data in California. In the meantime, California users are able to run the free version with access to California sex offenders, but with some limits.

A review of the article that the above link is to, we find that the ACCURACY of the information is QUESTIONED. It is clear why there are inaccuracies, you are seeing "secondarily disseminated registrant information," stored in a PRIVATE database; unknown where. As such it is unknown when the information was retrieved from the state sex offender registry, and when it is updated in these PRIVATE data bases.

From Vision 20/20 site: "Vision 20/20 gathers up-to-date information about Registered Offenders from all 50 states and stores it in a comprehensive database. "

Further, should there be erroneous information in the PRIVATE database, these applications provide no way to correct such information, because it is a PRIVATE database not covered by any laws. If folks think registries are perfect then see these news articles. It is difficult enough to get the state to correct a error, but what about these PRIVATE databases that have no known method and are not covered by any laws.

Real & Present Danger for Registrants: This new product sets the stage for vigilantism of registered offenders and their families, especially children of registrants. To understand, see the video below produced by Vision 20/20 a subsidy of ThinAir Wireless, where they are using Microsoft's "Virtual Earth" for real time photos of RSO homes and street around registrants' homes. The the photo below the RED DOT is pointing to the RSOs home, can you tell which one it is? Should a vigilante decide to attack this RSO, as Stephen Marshall did in 2006 in Maine, evryone in the vicinity of the RED DOT could be a target, not just the RSO.

Stephen A. Marshall used a laptop computer w/GPS (same logic as these cell phone applications) to find and kill two Maine registrants in April of 2006. Now with over 20 million or so cell phone capable of doing what Marshall did, there is a real and present danger from these applications. And, the danger extends to registrants' neighbors, because the accuracy of cell phone GPS is approximately 30-60 feet; clearly a neighbor could be erroneously targeted.

Wakefield also told us that the price of Offender Locator will jump from $0.99 to $1.99 once the most recent version of the app is approved by Apple. The new version of the app will include some enhancements to the map view and shows offenders within a 5-mile radius, but still doesn't support some of the interactivity we wished for previously. It will, however, allow you to scroll through the list of offenders from start to finish in the map view while displaying the photo, name, and address of each one.

Wakefield is hoping that the renewed availability of the app will have a positive impact on the organization known as Stop Child Predators, since ThinAir Wireless is donating 10 percent of the version 2.0 proceeds to this and other, similar organizations.

Sales of the app have rebounded since the original App Store delisting and at press time the paid app is currently ranked at number nine, and the free version at number eight. ..Source.. by David Martin

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