Four U.S. Senators are calling Apple to task over the availability of apps for the iPhone that can be used to alert users to the locations of drunk driving checkpoints. The Senators are asking Apple to remove titles that offer the feature from the App Store, calling the apps “harmful to public safety.”
U.S. Senators aren’t hip on DUI checkpoint apps
In a letter to Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software, Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Tom Udall (D-NM) stated:
We write today with grave concern regarding the ease with which downloadable applications for the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple 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.
The Senators didn’t name any apps specifically in their letter, but they were referring to apps such as Fuzz Alert Pro and Checkpointer that can alert drivers to DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints radar speed zones, and red light cameras in real time.
The Senators go on to say “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?’”
The letter calls into question exactly which apps should make it through Apple’s App Store review process — a question Apple has been taking heat over recently for allowing the Exodus International app on the store. In that case, concerns have been raised over the app’s anti-gay message and call for homosexuals to be “cured.”
The debate over whether or not DUI checkpoint apps should be available in the App Store will likely be just as heated as arguments over anti-gay apps. While officials will claim that the apps let users evade the law, supporters will claim they have a right to know where the checkpoints are, and that the checkpoints are a violation of their Constitutional rights.
Ultimately, however, it remains up to Apple to decide which apps stay and which go. So far the company has not publicly responded to the request from the Senators.
[Thanks to CNET for the heads up.]
[Image courtesy iStockphoto]