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.