America Under Seige | Citizen Spy: There is an app for that

Though it only bundles available Web hotlines, some liken it to “Big Brother”


By Matt Liebowitz | msnbc.com.

"I think the FBI has already been flooded with useless tips from various public and government sources that have wasted a vast amount of their time to no avail,"

A safe and secure society is at the heart of the new PatriotApp for iPhones, and while it’s quickly gaining popularity, it’s also attracting scorn from people who disagree with the controversial law on which it is based.

Launched in September, the PatriotApp allows people to report criminal or suspicious activity to several federal agencies, including the FBI, EPA, CDC and GAO (Government Accountability Office), the office responsible for investigating public funds. It also includes RSS feeds for the FBI’s Most Wanted list and the Department of Homeland Security’s threat level, and allows people to report workplace harassment and discrimination.

The app doesn’t grant a user privileged access to these agencies; rather, it bundles each group’s Internet tip line (ITL) — the website feature used to report incidents — and makes them mobile-phone friendly, and even enables users to send pictures. While it offers users a direct portal to each site’s ITL, the user must still go through the same process — and obey the same policies and warnings — as they would if accessing the site on a computer.

Playing off the Patriot Act name, “the app was founded on the belief that citizens can provide the most sophisticated and broad network of eyes and ears necessary to prevent terrorism, crime, environmental negligence, or other malicious behavior,” according to Patriotapps.com.

Before delving into a discussion about the PatriotApp, Dr. Roy Swiger, one of the app’s co-creators, acknowledged the inherent controversy in an app that models its mission on the Patriot Act.

“Some bloggers don’t think this is a good idea, they’re likening it to Nazi Germany,” Swiger told SecurityNewsDaily. “But a lot of folks are very positive.” Backing that point up, Swiger said since the app was made free last Friday (Dec. 10), it has been downloaded about 400 times a day.