U.S. Senators Attack Driver Alerting Apps
That’s when USA Today ran a story about different smart phone apps that alert drivers about known speed traps, speed camera locations, red light camera intersections and other dangerous intersections.
Phantom Alert got special attention in the article due to the fact it kept a list of DUI checkpoints in its database so drivers could avoid those spots.
Someone on Capital Hill read the article Monday, because on Tuesday, a group of 4 U.S. Senators came out with a statement asking Apple, Google, and Research In Motion (RIM) aka BlackBerry, to pull any of these apps with data on DUI or DWI check points off their websites.
The four Senators, Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM) wrote in a letter to Apple:
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 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.
Similar letters went out to RIM and Google.
Late Wednesday, Research In Motion caved to the pressure applied by the Senators and agreed to pull any apps that carried DUI checkpoint data off their site. This seemingly included Phantom Alert and Trapster which are both not available on the BlackBerry App World website anymore.
Joe Scott from Phantom Alert confirmed the deletion from the Blackberry app site with Computerworld.
Both FuzzAlert and Cobra’s iRadar currently operate on iPhones only, and do not have BlackBerry versions of their application. Although iRadar is planning to debut an Android version of their award winning software in April.
While FuzzAlert and PhantomAlert both openly tout the DUI/DWI checkpoint databases, Trapster seems to quietly collect this checkpoint data.
Of the big four, only iRadar seems to avoid the DUI checkpoint debate by only concentrating on speed traps and RLC intersections–at least going by their website.