States Ask Apple, Google to Ban DUI Checkpoint Apps
The move follows an announcement last week from four U.S. senators that Research in Motion, makers of BlackBerry smartphones, would block those apps from its online store.
Google said it removes apps from its Android Market that violate its content policies, but that DUI checkpoint apps in general "do not appear to violate those policies."Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.
The way the apps work: Users enter locations of DUI checkpoints, enabling other users to be able to tap into their smartphones' GPS devices to find the police stop areas, presumably to avoid them.
Other apps can help avoid speed traps and red light cameras, joining others for taxes, health and other less pleasant elements of a consumer's life.
In a letter this week sent to Apple and Google, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden pushed for the ban.
"These smartphone applications give drunk drivers a 'how-to' guide to evade DUI checkpoints and endanger the lives of innocent citizens on our roads," Gansler said in a statement. "We strongly urge Google and Apple to take the most responsible and reasonable step and ban these types of applications altogether. These are nothing more than an overt method of circumventing laws that were specifically enacted to save lives."
Biden said in a statement the apps "reduce our ability to get impaired drivers off the streets and protect our families from the tragic consequences of drinking and driving."
Last week the senators had also called on Apple and Google to block the apps from their iPhone and Android Market stores, which drew criticism from The Association for Competitive Technology, an industry trade group.
In a post on its blog, the group called blocking traffic apps "misguided" because they also can help drivers avoid traffic jams. "The suggestion that the government should compel Apple, RIM, or other mobile application stores to block programs that simply allow users to report information based on location is misguided at best," the group said.