Two weeks ago we wrote about smartphone applications that provide information on the location of school zones, speed limits, red-light cameras and DUI checkpoints. The smartphone applications that provided DUI checkpoint information to drivers have sparked controversy and debate in the law enforcement community. Some law enforcement officials believe the DUI apps will contribute to car accidents caused by drinking and driving. A group of Senators has also decided to weigh-in on the debate.
Four U.S. Senators wrote letters to Apple, Google and Research in Motion asking the technology companies to remove any smartphone applications that provide DUI checkpoint information to users from their respective app stores. The four Senators who asked for the removal of the apps are Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The Senators’ letter did not specifically identify certain smartphone applications. Instead the Senators provided a general description of an application where users contribute to the DUI checkpoint database and that has a subscription of over 10 million users. The description could be interpreted to identify the smartphone app PhantomAlert, the application we spoke about two weeks ago.
Each of the three technology companies has their own guidelines regarding the development and functionality of the applications sold on their online app stores. Generally, all three company guidelines prohibit anything illegal. Though their guidelines are similar, Apple, Google and Research in Motion chose to respond in different manners. Apple did not immediately respond to the Senators’ letter. Google said it would remove any application that did not follow its guidelines, but the company has not identified any application in violation of its guidelines. Finally, Research in Motion promised to remove relevant applications.