“U.S. senators wrote a letter this week to Apple, Google and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion seeking the removal of programs that they said provide the locations of DUI checkpoints — and RIM, at least, is quickly complying,” Jennifer Valentino-DeVries blogs for The Wall Street Journal.
“On Tuesday, Democratic senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Tom Udall sent the letter to the smartphone makers, calling the DUI apps ‘harmful to public safety.’ ‘Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern,’ they wrote,” Valentino-DeVries reports. “The apps in question have names like ‘FuzzAlert’ and ‘Buzzed’ and either maintain a list of DUI checkpoints or ask users to report them when they see them. Some of the apps also maintain information on speed traps and red-light cameras, but those features haven’t drawn the same level of ire.”
Valentino-DeVries reports, “The maker of “FuzzAlert,” Steve Croke, says he didn’t design the app to help people evade DUIs but to let people know where things like red-light cameras and speed traps are. He added information on DUI checkpoints because other apps had it and it publicizes the existence of such checks, he said. ‘I don’t think anybody realistically is going to go into a bar and get smashed and then check my app,’ he said. ‘Is government really allowed to come in and say ‘You can’t do this?’'”
“By Wednesday, the senators reported that RIM had said it would comply with the request and remove the apps, likely within the day,” Valentino-DeVries reports. “‘We appreciate RIM’s immediate reply and urge the other smartphone makers to quickly follow suit,’ the lawmakers said in a press release.”
Full article here.
In an editorial today, The Washington Times writes, “It wasn’t so long ago that ‘Papers, please’ checkpoints could only be found in Eastern European countries under the thumb of the Soviet Union. They were tools of oppression designed to keep the populace in check. In 1990, the Supreme Court decided that such techniques could be used in the United States because of the ‘carnage’ caused by drunk driving – the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures notwithstanding. The advent of smartphones has enabled drivers to note the locations of these stops and dispatch a warning notice to anyone who may be in the vicinity. It’s the digital equivalent of flashing one’s headlights to warn of an upcoming speed trap – a form of free speech as old as the automobile itself.”
“There’s good reason to question the constitutionality and effectiveness of checkpoints,” The Washington Times writes. “Michigan’s highest court outlawed roadblocks under the state constitution. Most other jurisdictions, however, have jumped on the bandwagon because checkpoints bring in big cash. As a typical example, police in Costa Mesa, Calif., gladly accepted federal grants to set up a roadblock on Jan. 7. A total of 1,005 vehicles passed through with two DUI arrests made, which equals a 99.8 percent sobriety rate. The officers confiscated five vehicles and issued 53 tickets for various infractions wholly unrelated to the DUI ‘carnage’ used to justify the stops in the first place.”
The Washington Times writes, “Real drunk drivers deserve severe punishment, but the best way to catch them is to respect the Fourth Amendment. Instead of having cops stand around behind barricades interrogating soccer moms, have them patrol the streets looking for evidence of impaired driving. It works. In the meantime, high-tech companies ought to email these senators a free Constitution app for their smart phones.”
Read more in the full article here.