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Democratic Senators Ask Apple to Remove DUI Checkpoint Apps

'phantom alert' appA group of Senators is asking Apple to remove from its App Store all apps designed to help drunk drivers avoid checkpoints -- apps that the politicians consider "harmful to public safety."

In a letter, four Senators -- Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM) -- argued that apps that help drivers avoid speed traps, sobriety checkpoints and police radar pose serious risks to other motorists. "Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern," the Senators wrote in a letter to Apple, Google and BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion. "We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration."

It's unclear how many apps the Democrats are targeting, but there are plenty that offer similar police-evasion services. The only app they specifically mentioned, 'PhantomALERT,' explicitly advertises its ability to alert drivers to upcoming DUI checkpoints. 'PhantomALERT,' which is owned by a company of the same name, proudly promotes its "verified database of speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, school zones, DUI checkpoints, dangerous intersections and more across North America."

PhantomALERT CEO Joe Scott called the Senators' censure a "knee-jerk reaction," contending that his company's app is designed to help dissuade motorists from drinking and driving. "Many police departments promote or advertise DUI crackdowns through the media as PSAs or through PR," Scott said, in an e-mail to ComputerWorld. "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."

Tags: Apple, apps, AppStore, BlackBerry, Democrats, drunk, DrunkDriving, dui, google, law, PhantomAlert, police, politics, RIM, top