Senators Against Apple's DUI Checkpoint Apps

| by Reason Foundation

By Brian Doherty

From ComputerWorld:

Four U.S. senators Tuesday called on Apple to yank iPhone and iPad apps that help drunken drivers evade police, saying the programs are "harmful to public safety."...

Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM) asked Scott Forstall, the head of Apple's iPhone software group, to pull an unspecified number of apps from the company's App Store. The senators also made similar requests of Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and Research in Motion's (RIM) co-CEOs, James Balsillie and Michael Lazaridis.....

The four had problems with apps that included alerts of upcoming sobriety checkpoints. It's unclear how many apps are in the senators' sights -- they identified just one, PhantomALERT -- but there are dozens that warn drivers of user-reported speed traps, roving radar-equipped patrol cars and accidents. Many integrate the smartphone's integrated GPS to display police and accident locations.....

"I think this is a knee-jerk reaction," said Joe Scott, the CEO OF PhantomALERT..."PhantomALERT is a 100% legal service. If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve they would actually support us."

Scott argued that his company's app was doing little more than broadcasting the information distributed by the police themselves.

"Many police departments promote or advertise DUI [driving under the influence] crackdowns through the media as PSAs or through PR," Scott said. "We are just taking it a bit further and pushing the info to drivers through GPS and smart phone technology.

Apple's annoying app policy gives Senators the ability to apply pressure at just the point of Apple themselves, as Apple officially only lets sanctioned software onto their devices.

Radley Balko has heretically suggested drunk driving laws in general might not be such a great thing.