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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2011

SCHUMER SECURES COMMITMENT FROM GOOGLE AND APPLE EXECS TO REVIEW DANGEROUS APPS THAT ALLOW DRIVERS TO AVOID DRUNK DRIVING CHECKPOINTS – COMPANIES AGREE TO REPORT BACK TO CONGRESS WITHIN A MONTH

Applications For Google and Apple Smartphones Help Drivers Identify Where Local Police Officers Have Set Up DUI Checkpoints – Allowing Intoxicated Drivers To Avoid Them

At Request of Schumer and Colleagues, Blackberry Agreed to Remove Apps in March; At First of Its Kind Hearing, Google, Apple Agree To Review Apps and Report Back To Congress

Schumer: Apps that Aid Drunk Drivers are Unacceptable and Must Be Removed

 

Washington, DC -- Today, at the inaugural hearing of the Privacy and Technology Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer questioned top executives from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. on the sale of software applications that can alert intoxicated drivers to the presence of DUI checkpoints in real time. In response to Schumer questions at the hearing, executives from both companies agreed to review the applications and report back to Congress, within a month, about whether they violate company policy against facilitating illegal activity. Testifying before the committee were Alan Davidson, Director of Public Policy for Google, and Guy L. Tribble, Vice President of Software Technology for Apple.

 

“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’,” Schumer said. “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.”

 

In March, Schumer  along with U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV),  Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Tom Udall (D-NM) wrote to executives at Google, Research In Motion (RIM, Blackberry’s app maker) and Apple asking the companies to remove applications from their sites which could alert drunk drivers to DUI checkpoints. The applications pinpoint police enforcement zones through user-submitted information that connects to GPS data, providing drivers with the ability to evade DUI checkpoints, speed traps, and red light cameras. The applications are free or inexpensive to download from application stores.  

 

In response to the Senators’ letter, RIM agreed to remove the apps from their store, but thus far Google and Apple have refused to follow suit, claiming that the applications do not violate their terms of service policies. Today the executives agreed to review their policies and how these apps adhere to them, and report back to Congress within a month.  Mr. Davidson also admitted that the current apps which help drivers avoid DUI checkpoints are ‘terrible’.

Law enforcement agents across the country have voiced concern over 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?”

The dangers of drunk driving are well-documented. One person dies every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving accident, and more than 10,000 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes each year.

Video of the hearing is available at http://www.senate.gov/fplayers/CommPlayer/commFlashPlayer.cfm?fn=judiciary051011&st=xxx.  Schumer’s remarks begin at minute 149.

 

The Senator’s March letter can be found here: http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=332101&

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