May 12, 2011
Tangential to the main judiciary hearing on mobile information security and privacy (a.k.a. "Locationgate"), the recent Senate grumblings against drunk driving checkpoint apps have been staunchly reiterated. AppleInsider reports that Senator Charles Schumer (D, New York)
specifically took issue with apps like Buzz'd and Fuzz Alert, which "really only have one purpose:" to notify drivers when they get near checkpoints. "We brought these to the attention of RIM, they pulled the app down. I'm disappointed that Apple and Google did not. Why not?"A complete transcript of the discussion can be read at This Is My Next, but Guy L. "Bud" Tribble, Apple's Vice President of Software Technology, has responded similarly to Google's own representation. He says:
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."From that standpoint, the matter seems pretty cut-and-dry. Even though the apps make use of public information harvested from police departments around the country, there can be no denying that they are essentially aiding the commission of dangerous, often deadly, crimes. One can argue, perhaps, that the apps provide sober, irritable individuals with information that helps them avoid annoying stops late at night, or that public information should be fair game no matter the intention. One might also assert that anyone foolish enough to drive drunk is neither sober enough nor smart enough to make use of such an app in the first place. Still, from where I sit, these arguments seem unlikely to hold up. I expect the entire category to be bounced from iTunes in a matter of weeks. Drunk driving is always avoidable, always unnecessary, and always a bad idea. It makes texting while driving look like driving while driving. If you wish to drink and drive, you do so at your own risk and despite your better judgment. Please, everybody, be safe on the road.