The Citizen smartphone app describes itself in simple terms: a safety network that sends alerts about nearby incidents, including crime. But in the past few months, his business has broken into potentially dangerous territory, alerting law enforcement and the employees who work there.

In Los Angeles, the company’s CEO Andrew Frame ordered his employees to pay a $ 30,000 reward for arresting a man who he mistakenly believed was responsible for starting a bushfire that had houses threatened. The sheriff’s office condemned the move, saying it put the man in danger and the man was acquitted of wrongdoing.

Days later, people saw what looked like an SUV with the Citizen logo driving through Los Angeles. It turned out to be a private security test of people willing to pay the company a monthly fee, and was quickly denounced on social media as a dystopian idea that could disrupt the 911 system. The company then canceled the test.

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