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Today, a group of U.S. senators called upon Apple to pull apps from the App Store that alert users to any police or any other law enforcement checkpoints that have been set up to combat drunk driving. U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) were named as senders in the letter, and it was addressed to Apple Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, Scott Forstall.
While no specific apps had been named, the letter did highlight apps that "contain a database of DUI [driving under the influence] checkpoints updated in real-time" as well as one that sends out real-time alerts about the existence of the 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," writes the group. "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."
To be fair, Apple did release a set of App Store guidelines in September that explains as to what exactly apps can and can't do. Included within that list of "don'ts" were "apps that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes."
See below for a full copy of the letter courtesy of CNET:
Mr. Scott Forstall
Senior Vice President, iPhone Software
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Dear Mr. Forstall,
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 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.
One application, your company acknowledges in the product description, contains a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time. Another application, with more than 10 million users, also allows users to alert each other to DUI checkpoints in real time.
Police officers from across the country have voiced concern about these products, with one police captain saying, "If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?" With a person dying every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, this technology should not be promoted to your customers--in fact, it shouldn't even be available.
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.
Thank you for your prompt and careful consideration of this matter. Should you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
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(Image courtesy of hawkinsroot.com)