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Senators call for takedown of iPhone apps that locate DUI checkpoints

post #1 of 151
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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. "RIMs 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 shouldnt 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
post #2 of 151
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.
post #3 of 151
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!
post #4 of 151
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.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #5 of 151
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 )
post #6 of 151
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.
post #7 of 151
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.

"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #8 of 151
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.
post #9 of 151
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
post #10 of 151
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.
post #11 of 151
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.
post #12 of 151
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'?
post #13 of 151
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...
post #14 of 151
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.
post #15 of 151
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.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #16 of 151
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.
post #17 of 151
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.
post #18 of 151
Apple removing the apps won't solve the problem but I hope Apple does comply with the request.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

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"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

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post #19 of 151
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.
post #20 of 151
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.
Allen
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Allen
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post #21 of 151
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.
post #22 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leithal View Post

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.

You're missing my point, but I don't know how to articulate it any more clearly.
post #23 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfulda View Post

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.

I don't understand your point. Are you suggesting drunks have their limbs removed by the bartender? :P
post #24 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenRockwell View Post

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.


Entrapment.
post #25 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

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 is the argument of people who only think in the now and not of the future benefit of society. Governments at all times ALWAYS evolve into tyranny. It is happening in the USA and will continue.

Giving government control over private messages, and communications (even if it is broadcast via an app on the Apple App Store) is dangerous. The government isn't taking control of these apps directly. The law makers are hoping their position in government will pressure Apple and other companies to make the changes. If they succeed it is really just a short step into taking more control legally in the future.

In the future when the US government via Homeland Security deems certain speech "dangerous to the safety of the population", will you want companies just laying down and turning off internet connections or killing telephone service because government doesn't want a message they don't like spreading to the population?

Think about what happened in Egypt recently. Remember how their government turned off the internet AND cell phone communications. If it weren't for hackers and smart IT people overcoming the government communication blocks, the Egyptian government would have squashed that uprising.

Even if you don't like the app that alerts drunks about checkpoints, you can't support anything that blocks the free communication between people, especially if the government wants it done.

Some day those messages and apps might be about citizens organizing to overturn a corrupt government. It might even be about voting out certain politicians. Two years ago the FBI and other local law enforcement agencies across the USA admitted that they were infiltrating non-violent peace protesting groups "for the safety of the country".

Most people don't think long term about liberty. That is why so many people don't want private citizens to own private weapons. Think long term, centuries. If people have all of their liberties and insurance (ability to fight back) taken away from them bit by bit, eventually there will be no liberties.
post #26 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

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

If that is correct then those senators had better be trying to get those laws changed as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenRockwell View Post

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?

Forget that. Make it the bars responsibility. After all they failed to cut someone off and then didn't call a cab. Let them pay the price. One month suspension of your liquor license each time the cops catch a drunk driver that is traced to that location. 3 times within six months and it's a total loss of the license.

And if the person causes an accident etc then the bar is charged with aiding and abetting or whatever.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #27 of 151
Might as well dispose with the 1st Amendment, while you're at it if you follow these hack politicians trying to steal freedom!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

Apple removing the apps won't solve the problem but I hope Apple does comply with the request.
post #28 of 151
HUH? Sounds like you would like the Gestapo -- "Papers please" checkpoints as well? No understanding of the value of transparency, nor rights?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

If that is correct then those senators had better be trying to get those laws changed as well.
post #29 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

This is the argument of people who only think in the now and not of the future benefit of society. Governments at all times ALWAYS evolve into tyranny. It is happening in the USA and will continue.

Giving government control over private messages, and communications (even if it is broadcast via an app on the Apple App Store) is dangerous. The government isn't taking control of these apps directly. The law makers are hoping their position in government will pressure Apple and other companies to make the changes. If they succeed it is really just a short step into taking more control legally in the future.

In the future when the US government via Homeland Security deems certain speech "dangerous to the safety of the population", will you want companies just laying down and turning off internet connections or killing telephone service because government doesn't want a message they don't like spreading to the population?

Think about what happened in Egypt recently. Remember how their government turned off the internet AND cell phone communications. If it weren't for hackers and smart IT people overcoming the government communication blocks, the Egyptian government would have squashed that uprising.

Even if you don't like the app that alerts drunks about checkpoints, you can't support anything that blocks the free communication between people, especially if the government wants it done.

Some day those messages and apps might be about citizens organizing to overturn a corrupt government. It might even be about voting out certain politicians. Two years ago the FBI and other local law enforcement agencies across the USA admitted that they were infiltrating non-violent peace protesting groups "for the safety of the country".

Most people don't think long term about liberty. That is why so many people don't want private citizens to own private weapons. Think long term, centuries. If people have all of their liberties and insurance (ability to fight back) taken away from them bit by bit, eventually there will be no liberties.

I enjoyed your comment but I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. This is about an app that helps people who want to drink and drive to avoid the police that we as citizens pay to do their jobs. We want the police arresting drunk drivers.

I think to make this about the far wider-reaching issue of government control is a stretch. We have to take these things on a case-by-case basis - with an eye to the future and bigger picture like you say - and not just react every time the government tries to do what it is ultimately there to do: protect its people and maintain law and order.
post #30 of 151
Politicians blow.

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post #31 of 151
Leave it to Chucky Schumer and his fellow stooges to pontificate about the smaller issues. "14 trillion in debt? Meh. Liberties being taken away by mandatory social welfare programs? Meh. But we must thwart people from potentially committing a crime by using technology! To the Idiotmobile!!!"

First of all, DUI enforcement is a state issue, not a federal issue. If these nimrod "Senators" really want to go after App curators, they need to be handling it from a state referendum, not from the Capitol. Second, Chucky is a proven Apple fanboi with nothing better to do than pester Steve Jobs about his favorite trivial causes. He needs to be booted from office and replaced with someone who knows how a Senator should spending his time. Third, the idea that only people who drink and drive will have use for an app such as a DUI locator is presumptuous at best, and at worst assuming that said users are guilty of a crime.

Talk about busybodies who can't think of anything better to do than mind other people's business!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdub52MOsox View Post

Entrapment.

There's a nice one-word summary from someone who knows the old edict, "innocent until proven guilty".

Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall

Might as well dispose with the 1st Amendment, while you're at it if you follow these hack politicians trying to steal freedom!

Tru dat, libertyforall. Thank you.
post #32 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Might as well dispose with the 1st Amendment, while you're at it if you follow these hack politicians trying to steal freedom!

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Benjamin Franklin

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post #33 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

Giving government control [] is dangerous

This isn't about "government control"! It's about a common-sense request to not enable would-be criminals to circumvent the law in a way that poses an obvious, and proven, threat to public safety. These Senators didn't bring legal action against Apple, Google, and RIM to remove the apps (the 1st Amendment grants and protects the existence of these apps that's not the argument!); they sent a letter requesting the apps be removed because their availability is irresponsible and negligent, particularly for Apple, which is known for its ethical curation of its App Store. This is a matter of corporate ethical responsibility. Google has complied by removing the apps. I hope Apple does the same.

"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #34 of 151
Idiots. Technology will always find a way. The developers will release a jail broken version or a web version. People who want to save the world from everybody will never win because people will always be stupid.
post #35 of 151
Here's a better idea.
Leave the apps up because this is America, information should flow freely and innocent people shouldn't have to be subjected to DUI checkpoints.

AND replace "3 strikes and your out" with "1 strike and your out"
post #36 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Benjamin Franklin

A great quote misused.
post #37 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

A great quote misused.

A great quote used properly. The government isn't your wet nurse.

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post #38 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

This isn't about "government control"! It's about a common-sense request to not enable would-be criminals to circumvent the law in a way that poses an obvious, and proven, threat to public safety. These Senators didn't bring legal action against Apple, Google, and RIM to remove the apps (the 1st Amendment grants and protects the existence of these apps that's not the argument!); they sent a letter requesting the apps be removed because their availability is irresponsible and negligent, particularly for Apple, which is known for its ethical curation of its App Store. This is a matter of corporate ethical responsibility. Google has complied by removing the apps. I hope Apple does the same.

Here here!
post #39 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

A great quote used properly. The government isn't your wet nurse.

A great quote requoted.
post #40 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

A great quote used properly. The government isn't your wet nurse.

Tell that to the parents whose child has been run down by a drunk driver.
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