Senators call for takedown of iPhone apps that locate DUI checkpoints

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Four U.S. senators are calling for Apple to remove iPhone and iPad App Store apps that help users to avoid DUI checkpoints, even as rival smartphone maker Research in Motion has agreed to remove offending apps from its BlackBerry App World store.



Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall sent letters to Apple, Google and RIM on Tuesday requesting that the companies, which all run prominent mobile application digital storefronts and smartphone platforms, take down or modify apps that notify users of police checkpoints. According to the senators, the apps in question are "harmful to public safety" because they could allow drunk drivers to evade police detection.



"Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern,? the senators said. ?We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration.?



The letter sent to Apple was addressed to Scott Forstall, the company's senior vice president of iPhone software. It called out one App Store application for containing a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time, while another application, with more than

10 million users, was deemed objectionable because it allowed users to notify each other of DUI checkpoints.



The senators cited growing law enforcement concerns over the apps, quoting a police captain as having said, "If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?"



Quickly responding to the letter, BlackBerry maker RIM agreed to the request from the senators on Wednesday. According to a press release from the senators, an RIM representative thanked them for bringing the issue to their attention and promised to comply with the request.



The senators applauded RIM for their timely response. "RIM?s decision to remove these apps from their online store prove that when it comes to drunk driving, there should not be an app for that," said Schumer, briefly alluding to Apple's "there's an app for that" ad campaign for the iPhone.



The original letter is included in its entirety below:

March 22, 2011

Mr. Scott Forstall

Senior Vice President,

iPhone Software

Apple, Inc.

1 Infinite Loop

Cupertino, CA 95014



Dear Mr. Forstall,



We write today with grave concern regarding the ease with which downloadable applications for the iPhone, iPad and other Apple,

Inc. products allow customers to identify where local police officers have set up DUI checkpoints. With more than 10,000 Americans dying in drunk-driving crashes every year, providing access to iPhone and iPad applications that alert users to DUI checkpoints is harmful to public safety. We know that your company shares our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store. One application, your company acknowledges in the product description, contains a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time. Another application, with more than 10 million users, also allows users to alert each other to DUI checkpoints in real time. Police officers from across the country have voiced concern about these products, with one police Captain saying, ?If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?? With a person dying every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, this technology should not be promoted to your customers ? in fact, it shouldn?t even be available. We appreciate the technology that has allowed millions of Americans to have information at their fingertips, but giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern. We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration. Thank you for your prompt and careful consideration of this matter. Should you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.



Sincerely,

Senator Reid

Senator Schumer

Senator Lautenberg

Senator Schumer
«1345678

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 150
    First: Drunk people won't have the foresight to even bother looking at the App to see where the check points are.



    Second: By law, most states have to publicize where those checkpoints are anyhow.
  • Reply 2 of 150
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,970member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    First: Drunk people won't have the foresight to even bother looking at the App to see where the check points are.



    Second: By law, most states have to publicize where those checkpoints are anyhow.







    Exactly!
  • Reply 3 of 150
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 41,165member
    Senator(s): Welp, I've downloaded my copy. Issue Apple a takedown order.



    If you're sober enough to interpret the application, you're sober enough to pass the inspection. It's really a non-issue.
  • Reply 4 of 150
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Publicized or not, if the app didn’t encourage driving drunk, or make it easier to get away with it, it wouldn’t be functional.



    That means it is helping to commit a crime that kills innocent people.



    Are you certain someone you know won’t be the next person killed because this app encouraged them to save taxi fare?



    (No, the app itself is not a sobriety test. That’s a nice sound bite, though )
  • Reply 5 of 150
    The joke that a drunk driver would be to drunk to use the app isn't funny. You could be pretty drunk and still work an iPhone but that doesn't mean you should drive. I strongly believe that this APP should be removed.



    What's next an APP that informs people where a drunk chick is passed out so guys can rape her? The DUI APP is a terrible idea.
  • Reply 6 of 150
    The Senators are correct in that such tools shouldn't be available as a matter of public safety. Honestly, I'm surprised to learn of the existence of such apps and appalled Apple ever approved them in the first place. I hope Apple quickly follows RiM's lead and removes them from the App Store.
  • Reply 7 of 150
    leithalleithal Posts: 64member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post


    The Senators are correct in that such tools shouldn't be available as a matter of public safety. Honestly, I'm surprised to learn of the existence of such apps and appalled Apple ever approved them in the first place. I hope Apple quickly follows RiM's lead and removes them from the App Store.



    If you block the apps, the app will move to the web as a service.



    Ultimately, censorship does not solve the problem.
  • Reply 8 of 150
    jonamacjonamac Posts: 384member
    It does seem hard to defend the existence of such apps. Their only use could be to circumvent the law. It's a matter of life or death in some instances, and some is enough. You can operate your phone drunk, you cannot operate a 1.5 tonne car at 30MPH drunk. The two are not comparable.



    For what it matters, I too hope Apple remove these apps.



    On a less serious note, I love the senator's quip. There should not be an app for that lol
  • Reply 9 of 150
    jonamacjonamac Posts: 384member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Leithal View Post


    If you block the apps, the app will move to the web as a service.



    Ultimately, censorship does not solve the problem.



    That's neither true nor the point.



    People are far less likely to find a site offering this service than they are to find a good app for it. Having an app for it makes its use easier.



    Even if it does displace to the web, it's no reason for Apple not to say 'not on our patch' to it. Child pornography is on the web, but nobody would suggest there should be an app that makes finding it easier.



    Make it as hard as possible for people to find illegal material or material that will help them to commit a crime, and at least then your conscience is clear and there is no blood on your hands. It's a matter of principle as much as a practical matter.



    Imagine the public outcry if a child was killed in a drink driving incident after the driver used an iPhone app approved by Apple to avoid police protection.
  • Reply 10 of 150
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post


    The Senators are correct in that such tools shouldn't be available as a matter of public safety. Honestly, I'm surprised to learn of the existence of such apps and appalled Apple ever approved them in the first place. I hope Apple quickly follows RiM's lead and removes them from the App Store.



    I completely agree.
  • Reply 11 of 150
    frugalityfrugality Posts: 403member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    It does seem hard to defend the existence of such an app. Their only use could be to circumvent the law.



    I don't know about your fair country, but over here you can still buy radar detectors.....similar principle....to circumvent the law....





    I understand the lawmakers' concern, and agree with it. But it's a gray area to navigate. Do we allow everything in a Libertarian manner and keep government bare-bones and essential, or do we have government in every aspect of our lives, making for a 'nanny state'?
  • Reply 12 of 150
    These and most other politicians have no respect for the Constitution -- why start now? Someone reports something in an app like Trapster, another receives it -- it is the 1st Amendment, and these politicians are tyrants because they do not understand the oath of office they took when they swore to uphold the Constitution. Tired of the knee-jerk politicians -- where are the ones who operate by REASON?! Not many out there... Ron Paul, Rand Paul -- maybe a few more, but a pretty short list.





    PS: Check out RadarActive -- a cool app that integrates with a V1 radar detector...
  • Reply 13 of 150
    applestudapplestud Posts: 367member
    i don't condone drunk driving, but there's probably a free speech argument in there somewhere. What's to stop two truckers on a CB radio from telling each other where the cops are located? Should the senators write letters to radio manufacturers?



    Let me get this straight: people want Apple (and other app marketplaces) to simultaneously censor AND not censor the apps? You can't have it both ways.



    That said, I ultimately think the DUI apps will disappear - not because they're illegal, but because Apple's TOS give them the right to pull whatever they want, and there's no sense ruffling feathers in Washington DC over an issue like this.
  • Reply 14 of 150
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member
    Both Schumer and Lautenberg should just shut up. Isn't it great that my Government is always there trying to protect me? Gimme a break. Their time would be better spent trying to save the public money by making Government smaller.



    Whoever transcribed the letter signed Schumer's name twice.
  • Reply 15 of 150
    Drunk or not who like a DUI checkpoint? Takes extra time to get thru them. Have to be inspected by the police. I would opt out if possible just to save time.
  • Reply 16 of 150
    jglavinjglavin Posts: 93member
    I think the bit about DUI checkpoints is just a smokescreen; they really want to get these taken down so people can't report speed traps, the piggy bank of the US police force.
  • Reply 17 of 150
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,111member
    Apple removing the apps won't solve the problem but I hope Apple does comply with the request.
  • Reply 18 of 150
    leithalleithal Posts: 64member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    That's neither true nor the point.



    People are far less likely to find a site offering this service than they are to find a good app for it. Having an app for it makes its use easier.



    Even if it does displace to the web, it's no reason for Apple not to say 'not on our patch' to it. Child pornography is on the web, but nobody would suggest there should be an app that makes finding it easier.



    Make it as hard as possible for people to find illegal material or material that will help them to commit a crime, and at least then your conscience is clear and there is no blood on your hands. It's a matter of principle as much as a practical matter.



    Imagine the public outcry if a child was killed in a drink driving incident after the driver used an iPhone app approved by Apple to avoid police protection.



    This isn't about child porn, it's about publically available information that is legal to have and legal to share. Dodging searches is different than actively committing a crime.



    People have the information... it is valuable... they will find a way to sell it.
  • Reply 19 of 150
    I want this app. I do not drink and I'm tired of being delayed waiting in line as irresponsible people are getting checked and arrested ahead of me.



    If cops were really concerned about drunk driving they would park outside every bar in America and test the drunks as they come stumbling out and therefore prevent drunk driving. ... but where is the financial profit in that?



    I guess it's better to let them drive a bit and then hit them with a heavy fine once they catch them, that is if they have not already killed someone.



    It just drives me crazy when I see cars leaving the parking lot at the local bar and I know most of them are drunk ... but no cop is to be seen anywhere near the place we ALL know they are coming from. We do not need a DUI checkpoint in front of a Tacobell or Mc Donnalds, we need them in the parking lots of bars.
  • Reply 20 of 150
    bfuldabfulda Posts: 37member
    If it was a matter of public safety, then drinking and having even the remote possibility of driving wouldn't be allowed at all. But that is to deep of an answer for most, especially a public official.
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