Senators to Apple: Pull iPhone DUI checkpoint alert apps
Four U.S. senators say iPhone, Android and BlackBerry apps like PhantomALERT 'harmful to public safety'
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."
The CEO of the company that makes one such app said the senators' demand was "a knee-jerk reaction."
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.
"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 in a letter to the executives at the three companies. "We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration."
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.
Not all pitch their ability to alert drivers of nearby checkpoints, however. One is PhantomALERT.
On its App Store description, the program touts itself as providing "the world's largest driver generated and verified database of speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, school zones, DUI checkpoints, dangerous intersections and more across North America."
PhantomALERT is produced by a Harrisburg, Penn.-based company of the same name.
"I think this is a knee-jerk reaction," said Joe Scott, the CEO OF PhantomALERT, in an e-mail reply to a request for comment. "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. The idea is to deter drivers from drinking and driving. When drivers get alerts for DUI checkpoints on their smart phones and GPS, they will think twice about drinking and driving."
Other apps also boast of their anti-DUI checkpoint skills.
"DUI or DWI [driving while intoxicated] stops are constantly changing whereas many of the red light and speed cameras are fixed positions," reads the Web site of FuzzAlert, another iOS app. "We wish this function would never have to be put in the app. That being said, the app wouldn't be complete without this type of law and traffic enforcement type."
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Performance Management: The Mobile App Development Playbook This comprehensive 16 page Forrester Research, Inc. report, authored by Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, details a number of valuable, commonly...
- New Problems Require Innovative Solutions The mobile market is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2015
- Getting Agnostic about Mobile Devices The idea of being able to interact with customers, prospects, and stay attuned to competitive pressures is not new, but the velocity at...
- Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software See why CommVault was positioned as the #1 leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery software for the 3rd year in...
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them.
On-Demand Webcast: 7 Reasons to Choose VoIP
Thinking about a new phone system for your business?
Be sure to watch this informative webcast. Steve Strauss, small business columnist for USA...
All Mobile Apps White Papers |
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more