4 U.S. Senators are asking Apple, Google and RIM to remove any apps from their online stores that warn drivers of checkpoints where police look to surprise those driving under the influence. The four Senators-all Democrats-are Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall. They all got together to send letters to Apple, Google and RIM. All three run online stores where smartphone users can buy applications to download on their phone, and the Senators want the three to remove from their respective online stores any applications that allow drivers to know in advance where police DUI checkpoints will be located.
According to the letter, these apps are “harmful to public safety”. The letter goes on to say that ,”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.” So far, RIM has removed such apps from the BlackBerry App World.
The letter to Apple was directed to the company’s Senior VP of iPhone software, Scott Forstall. It noted that one app contained a list of DUI checkpoint locations that was constantly updated in real time. Another app, with 10 million users, allowed users to communicate with each other about the most recent checkpoint locations.
There is a worry among law enforcement officials about the growing use of these apps. One police official made a valid point when he wondered why anyone would install the app on his/her phone unless he or her was planning on drinking and driving.
For Apple, Google and RIM, this is a good chance to overturn lawmakers negative feelings toward mobile handsets because of the growing number of accidents caused by those who drive and text/talk on their phone. Removing the apps as requested could generate a little good will in Washington for the three companies.