Gansler urges ban on app that can alert drunk drivers
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler joined with his counterpart in Delaware Monday to urge Google and Apple to ban a smartphone application that helps motorists avoid drunk-driving checkpoints.
Gansler and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in calling on the manufacturers of the popular iPhone and Android devices to block the use of the checkpoint-evasion apps from use on their products.
According to the attorneys general, the apps can be downloaded to the smartphones and used to learn the locations of drunk-driving checkpoints and to spread the word to other motorists.
“These smartphone applications give drunk drivers a ‘how-to’ guide to evade DUI checkpoints and endanger the lives of innocent citizens on our roads,” said Gansler. "These are nothing more than an overt method of circumventing laws that were specifically enacted to save lives.”
The two officials praised a decision made by Research in Motion for agreeing -- under pressure from several U.S. senators -- to stop selling such apps for its Blackberry mobile device on its online store.
"We should be doing everything we can to keep drunk drivers off our roads, not providing them with a road map to avoid checkpoints that are meant to protect our families," Gansler and Biden wrote.
However, a trade association representing technology manufacturers wrote a letter to the senators Monday asking them to withdraw their request. The Association for Competitive Technology contended the apps had been unfairly characterized in news accounts and warned that the move would set a precedent for banning the flow of similar information on social networking sites.
"If the mobile-application storefronts begin to pull apps outside of the regular regulatory environment or terms of service agreements simply to respond to any extra-governmental missive, we fear it will harm growth here, but more importantly lead to aggressive action abroad where other governments may see such action as a tool to curb U.S. competitiveness,” ACT President Jonathan Zuck wrote.
Companies such as Phantom/Alert contend their apps actually encourage motorists not to drink and drive. But the company's marketing material strikes a different tone, as when Phantom/Alert's web page boasts that its "technology is turning the table on cops."