After four US Senators sent a letter to Apple’s Scott Forstall concerning apps that reveal DUI Checkpoints, Apple has updated their App Store Review Guidelines to reject apps that aid drunk drivers (and sober drives who just don’t want to be bothered by the delay) from evading the law. Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall expressed grave concerns about apps that enabled those who drink and drive to escape law enforcement, and cited the apps as harmful to public safety. Apple’s new rules can be found in section 22.8:
Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.
If flashing your lights to alert oncoming drivers to a speed trap is against the law in the United States, why shouldn’t these iPhone apps be banned as well? This certainly opens up the opportunity for drunk drivers to break the law, but what about other iPhone apps that can check into police radio and point out speed traps? Just like with sexually explicit apps, this is going to be another hot topic of debate as Apple curates content on the App Store.
If you recall, last week we reported on a request from four US Senators that Apple remove apps that warn and alert users of where DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints are. Well the Association for Competitive Technology, a group of thousands of independent software developers has responded to this request by the Senators and objected to the reasoning of the claims.
Rebutting the contention that the apps are “harmful to public safety”, the group’s president, Jonathan Zuck, said that the concerns raised are actually “in conflict with the public interest on the issue of traffic safety.” Citing the National Highway Safety Administration, he goes on to say that heightened awareness of DUI checkpoints acts as a deterrent to illegal behaviour and that “several of the apps in question have received particular commendation from the law enforcement community.”
Furthermore some of the apps in question, including PhantomALERT (which is part of the A.C.T. group) and Trapster use data from the public domain – some of which is required by law to be published, this data will continue to live on regardless of whether some smartphone apps are pulled. Meanwhile, RIM last week removed PhantomALERT from it’s app store and was applauded by the Senators who issued a statement saying “Drunk drivers will soon have one less tool to evade law enforcement and endanger our friends and families. We appreciate RIM’s immediate reply and urge the other smartphone makers to quickly follow suit.” Jump the break for the A.C.T. group’s full response to the Senator’s request.
[Via Cult of Mac]
A group of four US senators have called on Apple to remove apps from its App Store that warn and alert users of where DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints are. In a letter addressed to Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone software, the four US senators which includes Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall convey their “grave concern” over the apps which are “harmful to public safety.”
The letter doesn’t name any specific apps but takes at aim at those which “allow customers to identify where local police officers have set up DUI checkpoints” and citing a police officer asks “what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?” The App Store does indeed include numerous apps that have DUI checkpoint databases, some of which are free and some of which are paid and many feature crowd-sourced information gathering on the location of the DUI checkpoints.
The senators end their letter stating “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.” Currently the App Store Guidelines only state that apps cannot “encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes” – there is no mention of such police or DUI checkpoint evasion apps.
CNet contacted Apple for comment but received no comment at the time of publication. For the full letter from the senators, jump the break.