WhatsApp traffic alerts produce first arrest in Spain

Guardia Civil: checking out the social networks

The Guardia Civil has made its first arrest, in Pontevedra, of someone involved in publishing traffic alerts of police action on social networking groups.

The individual arrested had been posting traffic alerts through a group on WhatsApp.Sources have commented that this individual, not only alerted other users as to the presence and whereabouts of traffic radars or alcohol controls, but that he could have also notified other users in the group about other sensitive aspects of the Guardia Civil’s actions.

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A Guardia Civil agent, from the province of A Coruña, said that the messages were not just about where the agents and traffic controls were situated, but that the individual took it to the next level and facilitated personal details and descriptions of Guardia Civil agents to other users of the group.

In the past few months there has been an increased awareness by the Guardia Civil and the Ministry of the Interior of the emergence of these types of groups on WhatsApp.

The type of messages that people post often include information such as the Guardia Civil trying to minimise the effect of the messages, by reducing the alcohol checks to only a few minutes, putting them on unexpected roads where you do not normally see them, and making traffic controls more random.  This allowed users of the group to have advance knowledge of what was happening and where

Social media web pages and applications such as Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter are generating concern within the Guardia Civil, as it reduces the efficiency of traffic and alcohol check points and can expose private, third party images. However, they also understand that these types of groups can help prevent and report any crimes witnessed.

The judge has established a gagging order, so it is as yet unknown what charges he may face.



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