U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint Avoidance App

March 23, 2011 -

Four United States Senators are not happy with an application that they say helps drunk drivers avoid checkpoints and they are demanding that a number of app stores yank it immediately. Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM) have asked Apple iPhone head Scott Forstall, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and Research in Motion's (RIM) co-CEOs, James Balsillie and Michael Lazaridis to pull an undisclosed number of apps.

"Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern," the senators said in a letter to the executives of the three companies. "We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration."

While the focus is on an app called PhantomALERT, there are other apps that the Senators asked to be removed. All of them have to do with drinking and driving apparently. PhantomALERT, developed and published by a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based company of the same name, is an app described by the makers as "the world's largest driver generated and verified database of speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, school zones, DUI checkpoints, dangerous intersections and more across North America."

The CEO of PhantomALERT, Joe Scott, calls the reaction to his company's app "knee-jerk":

"I think this is a knee-jerk reaction," said Joe Scott, the CEO OF PhantomALERT. "PhantomALERT is a 100% legal service. If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve they would actually support us."

Scott added that the app simply broadcasts information provided by the police. Police often announce sobriety checkpoints on the radio and television because it often proves to be a deterrent. More from Scott:

"Many police departments promote or advertise DUI [driving under the influence] crackdowns through the media as PSAs or through PR," Scott said. "We are just taking it a bit further and pushing the info to drivers through GPS and smart phone technology. The idea is to deter drivers from drinking and driving. When drivers get alerts for DUI checkpoints on their smart phones and GPS, they will think twice about drinking and driving."

Whatever the argument, chances are PhantomALERT will be pulled from most of these app stores. Apple has pulled apps from its store for less obvious reasons, after all.

Source: Computer World by way of Uncharted NES. Image credit: DWI Blog


Comments

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

Yeah, it does seem to be a bit of a knee jerk reaction. I mean, most people who are above the legal limit can't handle using a phone properly anyway.

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

Well first off, IIRC there is already a legal requirement for police to disclose where DUI checkpoints are going to be set up, in advance.

Second, this app is just as useful for people who are not drunk, because even sober people don't want to wait in line in the early a.m. just to return home.

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

 All four senators are democrats.  Nice to see them further eroding the 1st Amendment.  

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

They're not trying to make a law against these apps, they're simply requesting that these companies voluntarily discontinue this feature. There is no first amendment issue here.

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

Because republicans would never erode rig *achpatriotacthchoo* erode rights.

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

Well how will U.S. Senators avoid getting DUI's now?

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

Senators drive themselves?  I thought they would have people to do that for them.

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

The same way they always have. Threatening to pull funding from the police force.

If anyone really thinks that politicians are treated equally under the law, they are naive.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: U.S. Senators Rail Against Drunk Driving Checkpoint ...

I cannot find phantom alert on either the google or apple app store. 

http://fuzzalert.com/ however is online, and allows anonymous web surfers to report these things. If you don't like what they are doing, go in there and report a bunch of bogus locations.

 
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Neo_DrKefkaId love to see people come 2gether whether your 4 or against gamergate to gather 2gether and support a charity drive. e 10/20/2014 - 8:33pm
Neo_DrKefkaWhen someone was seriously hurt by a violent altercation. They have a prospective that people who have not had this experience lack. Bullying is a serious issue10/20/2014 - 8:30pm
Papa MidnightStraw Man to the fullest, but it gets the point across.10/20/2014 - 8:26pm
Papa Midnighthttp://i.imgur.com/dw0YPon.png10/20/2014 - 8:25pm
quiknkoldby doing something, Charitable Donations is an example.10/20/2014 - 8:06pm
quiknkoldAndrew : I dont accept any worded apology unless I can look the person in the eye when they say it. For me, he'd either have to make a video so I could read his bodylanguage, or actually do something. actions speak louder than words.10/20/2014 - 8:04pm
quiknkoldwell if they are looking for social pollution, Twitter is a great breeding ground for it. Its a breeding ground for deviance.10/20/2014 - 8:03pm
Andrew Eisenquiknkold - He had three tweets worth of apology the following day.10/20/2014 - 8:00pm
quiknkoldyou know, people keep saying Biddle's comment was sarcasm, but the thing is, Sarcasm doesnt translate well in Tweets. I took his words as really hateful, and unless I see an honest apology, I'm not going to be happy with him.10/20/2014 - 7:38pm
Matthew WilsonI doubt it will change much.10/20/2014 - 7:21pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29689949 Google's current piracy fighting plan.10/20/2014 - 6:58pm
Andrew EisenYikes. http://boingboing.net/2014/10/20/vultures-circle-gamergate.html10/20/2014 - 6:25pm
Neo_DrKefkaDestructoid Editor in Chief stepping down after allegations surface about blacklisting will he be next? http://allmannerofnerdery.tumblr.com/post/100526443850/im-leaving-destructoid10/20/2014 - 6:05pm
james_fudgethere's some inside baseball stuff going on in this Andrew - likely some stuff we don't know10/20/2014 - 3:30pm
E. Zachary KnightGreat musical video about online trolling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nS-QeM2ne810/20/2014 - 2:46pm
Andrew EisenBut again, this whole thing is just too damn vague to form an opinion on.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenWithout the original communication, it's impossible to say if it could honestly be misconstrued as a friendly suggestion rather than an employer directive. However, it appears that subsequent emails should have cleared up any doubt.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenThose aren't the owner's words, they're Chris Dahlen's. For what it's worth, we do see an email from Gonzalez stating "you've already broken the only rule we set for you!!!!!!!"10/20/2014 - 2:38pm
Michael ChandraSo really the guy's own words strike me as "wah! How dare you disagree with me!" behaviour, which is the sort of childish attitude I am unfortunately not surprised by.10/20/2014 - 2:17pm
Michael ChandraCorrect AE, but then again the owner's own words are about "wishes", not about an order. No "we told him not to", but going against his wishes.10/20/2014 - 2:16pm
 

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