“On Thursday morning, a handful of anti-gun-violence activists realized there is an app in the Google Play Store with their names on it—literally,” fastcompany.com reports. “The app, Gunfree Geo Marker, features a map pinpointing the home and work addresses of politicians, gun control organization employees, and ‘random anti-gun trolls’ who ‘push the anti-gun agenda in any way, shape or form.’ Clicking on a person’s name in the menu reveals their address on a Google map, along with the app creator’s reasons for including that person in the app.” The practice – known as “doxing” – sounds an awful lot like harassment. But then . . .
The app is a response to another app called Gun Geo Marker, which allows people to mark on a map the locations of guns that they believe are unsafe: For example, the gun’s owner may have insufficient training or a history of frequent and unlawful discharge. Gun Geo Marker’s makers say it is intended to be a safety tool. But Gun Geo Marker has been compared to a New York newspaper’s decision a few years ago to publish the names and address of 33,614 gun permit holders, an ethically dubious decision that many gun owners said made them feel targeted and vulnerable.
Needless to say, the antis are up in [metaphorical] arms, petitioning Google to remove the ap from the Play Store (which they appear to have done). The creator told Fast Company je ne regrette rien.
Because what he posted in his app is publicly accessible, the author of Gunfree Geo Marker (who I reached via phone after exchanging emails with an address on his Google Play page) doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything wrong, and he says he’s not worried that his information will help bad people do bad things. “It’s all public information,” he told me (he declined to provide his name). “If there were nutjobs out there who would be doing this stuff with these people, because [the targets] have made themselves well-known in this debate, it would have already happened. [The nutjobs] would have already have this data.”