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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Apple Asked to Scrap Apps That Help Users Evade DUI Checkpoints

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 6:21 PM

What does your app tell you?
  • What does your app tell you?
Earlier today, SF Weekly told readers about the controversial gay-cure app that's put Apple at the center of an uncomfortable high-tech debate about religion and gays.

Now, U.S. lawmakers are challenging the company to scrap another iPhone app -- one that alerts users to nearby DUI checkpoints.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall  (D-N.M.), fired off a letter today to Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone software, asking the company to remove all apps that alert users of DUI checkpoints which are staged to curb drunk driving, CNET.com reports.

They believe this real-time warning gives drunk drivers a chance to dodge the cops.


screen_shot_2011_03_22_at_4.44.11_pm.png
"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," the lawmakers wrote. "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."

We did a quick search and found that there are, indeed, plenty of apps out there that promise to warn us of upcoming sobriety checkspoints in our area.

Buzzed, distributed by Minot LCC, for instance, said it would provide its users with "detailed information regarding if, when, and where" a DUI checkpoint might occur.

To be fair, the application also seeks to help buzzed drivers by offering its "Call a Cab" service.

Other apps we viewed include: Ace Baron's Checkpointer, Keller Fishback & Johnson's, Tipsy, and Fuzz Alert's Fuzz Alert Pro.

Apple revised its app review guidelines in September 2010, stating it would not accept apps from developers that "encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes."

Apple is already taking heat from gay advocacy groups that started an online petition yesterday, asking the Cupertino-based company to remove an app created by a religious group, Exodus International. The app was designed to help users resist their unwanted homosexual desires. 

Sounds like there's is a good opportunity for another new app -- one that could help Apple steer clear of controversy.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

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Jake Swearingen

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