Yesterday, Apple testified in a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on mobile privacy. Senator Al Franken called the Senators, as well as both Apple and Google, to talk about mobile privacy in wake of the recent cell phone tracking panic.

While Apple was pressed hard by the panel on the recently exposed tracking file, they were also questioned on their App Store submission policy. Typically, the Cupertino company is criticized for their app entry policy being too strict, but not this time…

A few months ago, Sen. Charles Schumer and others wrote letters to Apple, Google, and RIM regarding the application Fuzz Alert. It and other apps like Trapster notify users of police check points and speed cameras, and the senators requested that they be removed.

Schumer was disappointed to see that both Apple and Google had yet to remove the questionable apps, especially after RIM reacted so quickly to pull the software. AppleInsider quoted the Sen. from yesterday’s hearing:

“I hope that you narrowly look at this app. You agree that it is a terrible thing, and it probably causes death.”

Apple vice president Bud Tribble responded:

“The apps in question are publishing data that’s actually first published by the police department. 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’ll pull it.”

Sen. Schumer was unsatisfied with Apple’s explanation, commenting that he knew of no police department that would publish this kind of information in real time. He gave both Apple and Google a month to investigate the applications and get back to him.

Do you believe Apple should remove these DUI checkpoint applications? Do you think it encourages drunk or reckless driving?

  • Joel

    Speed cameras in my state require a public sign be published before entering the city and there are signs notifying you an intersection is being monitored.

    My state however doesn’t do DUI checkpoints so I don’t know the legalities of that issue

  • Brandon

    I think they should remove them. I think its dumb that people know an intersection is being monitored. defeats the whole purpose doesnt it?

    • XepptizZ

      Or it encourages people to drive slowly where they otherwise would not.

  • Eduardo

    Yes it most likely promotes drunk driving, and also adds another risk: people checking their phone while driving.

  • I don’t know about Fuzz Alert and what it does.

    But Trapster is much more than a DUI checkpoint app. It alerts you to accidents, construction zones, road hazzards/road kill, school zones, and, of course, where police like to hide.

    What’s the big deal anyway? Sure, it’s a public database to see speed traps, cameras, etc but what’s the difference between that & a standard Radar Detector? I’m going to find find the cops anyway with one of those solutions.

    I think they’re making a mountain of an anthill personally.

    • Mike78519

      The Senate making a mountain out of an anthill.. no way! (Much sarcasm intended)

  • Matt D.

    I think they are great apps. If anything they help public safety. I don’t speed on streets with speed cameras. I’ll be extra careful when approaching traffic light cameras. I’ll know when I’m in a school or construction zone. And most importantly I’ll call a cab when i see all the DUI check points that are near my local watering hole.

    People are forgetting that tickets are to enforce public safety, not to generate revenue.

  • I think that information is good in general.

    And in this case it serves as a reminder. Even if the person uses this to slow down where the police is, or to be inconvenienced to go around the area, it will cause them to think and review themselves. I don’t drink at all, but flashing speed lights remind me to slow down. Not that I am speeding intentionally, but open roads and busy schedules override a person. A reminder helps.

    I assume people are inherently good. And information helps.

    What do you assume?

    • XepptizZ

      Throwing a filosophical one out here huh? Well, i think everyone acts egocentric in one way or the other, which by no means answers your question. But if people being bad means acting harmfull towards others than the majority is indeed inherently good as in modt cases it hardly ever is benificial to hurt one another.

      Totally agree on pro information as long as it is relevant.

      • moimoimoimoi

        i hope you spelled ‘filisophical’ tongue-and-cheek — yea you did I’m sure of it

      • XepptizZ

        @ moimoimoi, I guess I did, though in all fairness, why do the english and americans need two ways to pronouce one consonant? (Yeah, I had to look it up)

  • Absolutely not. I’d disappointed and ashamed that our government would even ask for this. We live in a free country, and freedom of speech is the most important right. I and everybody else have the right to communicate with others about whatever the hell I want to communicate about.

    It is every citizen’s duty to not only watch the police, but to report on their activities to all other citizens, in the best way they can.

    • XepptizZ

      America, the land of the free…

  • Blagaah

    I think it’s fine to publish this information. It allows people another way to avoid law enforcement. If the police do not want this kind of information publicly available then they should work to counter the data streams that these apps use to disable them. It shouldn’t be up to the company producing the app to help law enforcement. I mean, criminals use maps to plan smuggling routes and cops have to put in leg work to find those kinds of lawbreakers. I don’t think it’s a bad thing if those who choose to do an end run around the authorities have a leg up for a while till the police figure out a legit counter-measure to this ‘new’ tracking. Our military uses stealth…..Mr Po-Po I’d ask them how they do it.