Microsoft's "Pedestrian Route Production" App

From its capabilities of drawing out safe zones based on crime stats to its media-labeled “Avoid Ghetto” moniker, the criticism over Microsoft’s racially insensivitve GPS-esque app had spread like wildfire. Why the debate? Apparently, the app doesn’t specify what constitutes an area “unsafe,” plus there’s also a debate about it determining crime stats based on race and social class.

Sarah E. Chinn, author of Technology and the Logic of American Racism says the app could skew stats and discriminate against certain demographics, where as Strategy Analytics Senion Analyst Roger C. Lanctot observes the issue of race being a sensitive subject when safety comes into play: “All of this geo-fencing has an element of engendering an element of paranoia and creepiness." Until Microsoft provides some specificity, the heat is on.