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.
Mr. Scott Forstall
Senior Vice President, iPhone Software
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Dear Mr. Forstall,
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.
We know that your company shares our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store.
One application, your company acknowledges in the product description, contains a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time. Another application, with more than 10 million users, also allows users to alert each other to DUI checkpoints in real time.
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?” With a person dying every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, this technology should not be promoted to your customers–in fact, it shouldn’t even be available.
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. We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration.
Thank you for your prompt and careful consideration of this matter. Should you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.