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Google Won't Pull Checkpoint Evasion App 343

Posted by timothy
from the good-for-them dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "Don't expect Google to remove apps that help users avoid DUI checkpoints — the company says it is leaving the controversial apps on its Android Marketplace. A source said the company only removes apps that violate its Android content policies and the apps in question do not appear to violate these policies." We'll see if Apple caves to pressure to remove them.
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Google Won't Pull Checkpoint Evasion App

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  • Unexpected benefits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:49PM (#35602136) Journal
    I wonder if they ever consider that this may actually be persuading people to not drink & drive. They check their phone, see that there are some drunk driver stake-outs, and they take a cab home instead. I'm sure it doesn't happen in all cases, but if it helps in a few, that's a good thing.
    • by equex (747231)
      In Norway, this is allowed for that exact reason. These services are mostly targeted at speeding checkpoints but also works for DUI checkpoints (they are usually the same) There was a lot of fuzz from the police in the beginning but research showed otherwise. They discovered that people actually drive slower if they know about the checkpoints.
      • They discovered that people actually drive slower if they know about the checkpoints.

        Not sure how it is in Norway, but flashing someone with your headlights twice is a way to signal oncoming traffic that there's a cop lying in wait down the road. I try to do it all the time, because I don't want to see anyone get a speeding ticket, but only after I'm out of eyeshot of the police.

        • To be clear, that can also be a signal that something's wrong with your car (like that you have a headlight out or your lights aren't on).

          I just wish there were a reliable way to indicate to people that their taillights aren't on, those utter idiots.
          • by Americano (920576)

            Ramming them from behind at a high rate of speed will do the trick. Messy, but effective.

        • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:42PM (#35603040)

          In most countries flashing your lights is a signal to oncoming motorists that they are approaching a hazard. It almost doesn't matter to me whether that hazard is a fallen utility pole or a bored traffic cop, I would want to have some signal it's coming.

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        But Norway's police are geared toward protecting the public. Here in America, it's a revenue stream. Anything that gets in the way of revenue is a bad thing.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Just don't check that phone while driving!

  • I expect no less (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omnifar i o u s.org> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:49PM (#35602140) Homepage Journal

    Apple is practically obligated to pull the app, given the fact they're willing to act as the morality police for their users, though it might take them awhile because they like to pretend they 'think different'. RIM is a lily-livered chicken with no willingness to take any kind of stand for fear of offending anybody. It's also not a surprise they pulled the app. And Google is standing by their principles, and won't pull the app unless its actually illegal.

    The world is acting according to my expectations in this regard. And once again, its Google I have the most respect for.

    • Yes but I would argue that now Apple is almost obligated to NOT pull the app because their fight with Google trumps all. Because when they do pull it you know Google will use that as an edge when marketing. We will see though. I hope this is the case.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Google could pull the App, but let's be honest, even if they did, the actual barrier to installing it is practically non-existent. I'm sure a significant number of people using such an app are googling it anyways, this just makes it somewhat more convenient than having to sideload.

      In other words, I don't think it's worth the hit to Google's integrity to pull an app like this.

    • by NetShadow (132017)

      Totally agree. I'm amazed to hear people calling for the censorship / restraint of the free exchange of tools and information by people who want to make them available to people who want to use them, when they violate no law. Just because something is controversial does not mean it should be banned. (I would think that we in the US would understand that more than most)

      • How would you feel about an app that purported to help black people not being black? And how is this any different? Bigots and religious lunatics already have the right to say pretty much anything they like, no need to give them an additional platform for doing that!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:58PM (#35603282)

          I would support the right of a KKK or Nazi sympathist to say or publish whatever he likes before I support you in oppressing him. You are no better than the religious lunatics who indoctrinate their offspring. Enjoy your 'freedom,' serf.

      • Understanding isn't necessarily reflected in actions; but in this case I think flogging the censorship horse is a bit out of touch.

        I think Apple bans apps based on brand positioning rather than morality or deference to authority. In short, they identify their products with creative, intelligent, well off people. They want people to envision their products fitting in at a well lit coffee shop with too many plants.
        They don't want people to think iphone==mini porn device, or imagine a "fondle slab" in a tr

    • And Google is standing by their principles, and won't pull the app unless its actually illegal.

      I fully expect this app to soon be made illegal by legislators "thinking of the children" and "tough on crime", along with another round of cries of "Google is evil" and "Google's monopoly should be broken up" by harebrained analysts and commentators. .

    • by jesseck (942036)
      Let's not forget that Apple owes the cops a favor, after SWAT retrieved their "stolen" iPhone.
  • Why should they? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:50PM (#35602146)

    Why should they? Police in most (all?) areas are required to publish the locations of checkpoints ahead of time, so these apps are just making public information easier to find.

    • by NevarMore (248971)

      Thats interesting. Can you back that up? Where would this info be published?

      • Re:Why should they? (Score:5, Informative)

        by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:58PM (#35602276)

        It's considered entrapment if they don't. If you read your local paper, you'll see checkpoints published. Of course, law enforcement is constantly trying to push the limits. After our local PDs started ramping up DUI checkpoints, they started restricting information on locations, shortening the lead time for announcements, etc.

        • by PDG (100516)
          Entrapment is only when they induce you to do something you normally wouldn't have done otherwise.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          Citation necessary. That's not entrapment. Whether they tell the public ahead of time that there will be DUI checkpoints or not it's not entrapment. It might be a violation of portions of the constitution at the state or federal level, but it's definitely not entrapment.

          Entrapment [wikipedia.org]

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Huhh???? That's not entrapment. That's not anywhere near entrapment. Some states may require police departments to publish locations but that has nothign to do with entrapment.
      • by PDG (100516)
        Yes, check points need to be published in newpapers to allow police to side-step 4th amendment rights to unreasonable searches. If the info is made public, the rationale is you've been "notified", regardless if you've read it or not, and have waived your reasonable expectation of privacy in this regard.
        • by MooseTick (895855)

          I wonder if the illeterate could claim they weren't informed properly.

          • I would really, really hope that the illiterate would not have been able to pass their states drivers exam in the first place.
        • Read here [wikipedia.org] and here [wikipedia.org] for why DUI checkpoints are legal. They do not have to publish anything anywhere.

          "...by a 6-3 decision in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz (1990), the United States Supreme Court found properly conducted sobriety checkpoints to be constitutional. While acknowledging that such checkpoints infringed on a constitutional right, Chief Justice Rehnquist argued the state interest in reducing drunk driving outweighed this minor infringement."

          I've long said it, the constitut

        • Re:Why should they? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Americano (920576) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:50PM (#35603156)

          Here in New Hampshire, there are specific prohibitions against [nhseacoastlawyers.com] using a sobriety checkpoint for trapping ANY violation other than drunk driving.

          The legislature enacted RSA 265:1-a (2004), which provides:[...]
          Sobriety checkpoints can't be used as a backdoor method to find other types of criminal violations. They must be published in advance by at least one newspaper.

          Go figure, the legislature - along with armies of lawyers and police officers, thought of your trick and specifically closed the loophole to prevent against that abuse.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Thats interesting. Can you back that up? Where would this info be published?

        I don't think anything is in law, but the NHTSA has issued guidelines for checkpoints that should help keep them legal, and on of those guidelines is that the public be warned of locations ahead of time:

        http://www.duiattorney.com/dui-basics/dui-checkpoints [duiattorney.com]

        How they do that differs - sometimes it's a local paper, evening news, etc, however posting on a bulletin board at the local police station 15 minutes before setting up the checkpoint may also count as sufficient notice.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:53PM (#35602200)
    If you're rational enough to pull out an app and plot a route home that avoids all the checkpoints, you're probably sober enough to drive. The problem with drunk drivers is that they DON'T think straight.
    • by pclminion (145572)
      Or maybe I'm not "sober enough," I'm completely sober and I would like to avoid being repeatedly stopped for no damn reason.
      • by amiga3D (567632)

        I know how you feel, I hate getting stopped at these DUI checkpoints also but they do perform a useful purpose. As annoying as it is I think the fact that they are getting drunks off the road is important. It's incredible how many people get arrested for drinking and driving at these stops. Most people who get caught admit to drinking but think "they're fine." They don't believe the fact they've been guzzling alcohol at a bar for 3 or 4 hours has any effect on them.

        • by pclminion (145572)

          Ahh, think of the children! Ahh, think of the drunk driving victims! It just goes on and on. Getting drunks off the road is important, let's stop everyone. Finding illegal aliens is important, let's require the police to check everyone's papers. We need to stop terrorism, let's irradiate everyone who tries to get on an airplane. Next up, stopping drug dealers -- let's grab people at random and search them. Anything, anything at all to prevent crime, even if it means giving up the most fundamental freedoms w

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          They've got tiger blood. They're different.

        • Without looking, what is the expiration date on your license plates? Or your drivers license, or safety inspection, or tax sticker, or insurance, or any of the multitude of other things you're required to keep in order? Have you checked all the lights on your car today? That's what they're really after.

          Cops in my county will road block in the afternoon on a weekend. They are NOT looking for drunk drivers. They're collecting revenue.
        • by rabbit994 (686936)

          Actually, most Checkpoints are useless. They snag very few drunk drivers compared to number of cops it takes to run the checkpoint and number of people they inconvenence. Only reason most departments run them at all is because they get money from fed.gov to do so and cops don't care since it's overtime for most of them. If we wanted to crack down on drunk driving, we would take these officers, team them up, put them in a car during prime drunk driving time and send them out to catch drunks. It would be win,

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's actually a myth, a person's reaction time starts to take a hit way before the person becomes unable to use an app like this. Unless of course it's poorly designed. Particularly for people who have developed a tolerance, they might look and speak fine, but the reaction time still isn't there to drive safely.

      Sure that's the case for some drivers, but it's hardly the only ones. Somebody in that condition can at least stick to back streets and leave more room, they aren't necessarily that much more dange

      • by idontgno (624372)

        a person's reaction time starts to take a hit way before the person becomes unable to use an app like this

        Well, there's our answer! Design a reaction-time-testing game into teh app. If you fail, you'll never know, but the app will lie to you about checkpoint locations, trying to route you into the first one between "here" and your destination.

        Now, where's my patent application forms...

  • by PDG (100516) <pdg@webcrush.com> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:57PM (#35602252) Homepage
    Then chances are you're too drunk to use the apps. I can't imagine some drunk driver trying to use some Google Maps mashup on a phone to navigate around police roadblocks, let alone have the mental aforethought to consider using it. People don't drink and drive because they're evil-doers, they do it because they lack the sober rationale to realize they're not capable of driving in their current condition.
    • by Kijori (897770)

      I would wager that quite a lot of people who drink-drive do it because they think of drink-driving in the same way that you do in this comment - that drink-driving is what happens when you are so drunk that you are unable to perform basic functions - and therefore don't consider what they are doing to be drink-driving. It only takes a small amount of alcohol for a person's reactions and judgement to be greatly reduced, with potentially fatal consequences if they then drive a car. They can therefore be unfit

    • by 517714 (762276)
      I thought Android had an to easy to use interface. Actually a reaction/logic test prior to accessing the maps would be a good addition (though annoying) to the software, fail the test and you can't find out where the stops are. It would bolster the premise that the application serves the valid purpose of allowing sober drivers to avoid delays.
  • What if it was an app that helped people avoid hate-crime checkpoints?

  • Checkpoints (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryanov (193048) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:17PM (#35602618)

    I find checkpoints annoying, and I don't drink and drive. Seems to me if I want to know how to avoid them, I should be able.

    • by smartr (1035324)
      I'm with you here... How in the world is it reasonable to stop every last person passing by on the road? They might as well let cops randomly search blocks of houses for possession of contraband or tax evasion. I say it's unreasonable, and I appreciate the app. Statistical probability says that someone in this town isn't paying their fair share, and we're going to search every last home until we find out who's cheating the system!
  • by pnuema (523776) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:18PM (#35602648)
    It is common knowledge where I live that certain municipalities stop drivers at checkpoints, and then will not release them until they have found some reason to give them a ticket. They aren't DUI checkpoints. They are the modern version of "highwaymen". A few coins to keep the kings peace....
    • by rayd75 (258138)

      It is common knowledge where I live that certain municipalities stop drivers at checkpoints, and then will not release them until they have found some reason to give them a ticket.

      Exactly. Calling them DUI checkpoints pulls the right emotional strings to keep most people from being enraged at the prospect of getting stopped en masse without cause. The reality is that these are not DUI checkpoints but checkpoints in a more general and unsavory sense. Else, they would wave you through if you don't wreak of alcohol and aren't obviously under the influence. Instead, they write dozens or hundreds of tickets for things like seatbelt violations, lack of insurance, expired licenses, expired

  • Granted, I really don't know a lot about this story, every article on it is a little hazy, but one issue, two really come to mind.

    Why isn't the bar tender locked up when he says, "Be careful, there is a traffic stop 3 blocks away." I mean technically that is two counts of being an accessory to attempted homicide.

    The other, how does the app maker obtain this info? Some states require that check points are made public, others do them at random. Using public information really isn't that different than owning

    • by pnuema (523776)
      Why isn't the bar tender locked up when he says, "Be careful, there is a traffic stop 3 blocks away." I mean technically that is two counts of being an accessory to attempted homicide.

      Hyperbole much? Charlie Sheen must be worse than Stalin.

      Unclench, and get a grip.
  • It seems to me that if you were sober enough to actually remember to use this app that you probably aren't drunk enough to get arrested for drinking.

    Wanting to avoid having your 4th amendment rights violated is not a crime, yet.

  • Everyone keeps referring to these apps as "Checkpoint Evasion" apps, implying their primary purpose is to help drunks dodge DUI checks. Both PhantomAlert and Trapster are primarily built to identify SPEED TRAPS, not DUI checkpoints. They just happen to allow users to tag checkpoints as well. I've been a Trapster user pretty much since it came out and have never seen a checkpoint listed. The "Buzzed" app seems to be focused on DUI checks and thus could be much more questionable, but again at least the ot

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