A group of Democratic U.S. senators have asked three major manufacturers of smartphones to block free access to an application they say helps drivers avoid local police, and they say BlackBerry's maker has agreed.
In a letter to the manufacturers dated Tuesday, the senators expressed concern that the phone application could contribute to drunk driving.
“We appreciate the technology that has allowed millions of Americans to have information at their fingertips,” a copy of the letter reads, “but giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern.”
The letter asked the companies “to make these applications unavailable.” It was sent to iPhone maker Apple Inc., Android developer Google Inc. and BlackBerry creator Research in Motion Ltd.
Several media outlets including USA Today have reported on the applications, which have names such as iRadar and Trapster. At least some of the applications rely on user-generated databases, which detail the locations of red-light cameras, drunk-driving checkpoints and other “enforcement areas.”
The senators said in a statement that Research in Motion has agreed to “remove from their online store applications that help drunk drivers evade police.” A message left with the company was not immediately returned.
Still, Fox News quoted one application maker today as saying that downloads jumped sharply after senators drew attention to the issue.