Apple and Google have agreed to review applications alerting drivers to DUI checkpoints to consider whether they facilitate illegal activity.
The concession follows a grilling from senator Charles E Schumer, who believes such apps are an avtive aid to drunk drivers.
“Apple and Google shouldn’t be in the business of selling apps that help drunk drivers evade the police, and they shouldn’t be selling apps that they themselves admit are ‘terrible’, he says.
In March, Research in Motion (RIM), pulled similar Blackberry apps after pressure from Schumer and other senators.
The applications identify police enforcement zones through user-submitted information that connects to GPS data, allowing drivers to evade DUI checkpoints, speed traps and red light cameras.
“Blackberry has done the right thing by removing these dangerous apps and today Apple and Google took a step forward by agreeing to review them and report back within a month,” says Schumer.
Until now, though, Google and Apple have refused to follow suit, claiming that the applications don’t violate their terms of service – which prohibit apps facilitating illegal activity.
While evading DUI checkpoints might seem pretty clearly to fall under this heading, the makers of apps such as Trapster argue that they’re more about social networking, and as such are harmless. “A high-tech version of flashing your headlights to alert drivers of potential road hazards,” says the company.
And at the Senate hearing, Apple vice president of software technology, Guy Tribble, claimed that much of the data provided by such apps was already being published by police departments. But, he said, “We’re in the process of looking into it – we have a policy that we don’t allow apps that encourage illegal activity. If the app’s intent is to encourage people to break the law, then we will pull it.”