Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has changed the terms of service that govern its iOS developer program to ban most applications that let iPhone and iPad users discover where local police have set up drunken-driving checkpoints, after pressure from public-safety advocates and members of Congress mounted in recent weeks.
Reports from CNET and Macworld indicate that the App Store Review Guidelines were updated this week with a new clause regarding the controversial applications, some of which allowed users to discover where a police department was conducting checks for driving under the influence. Those guidelines require an Apple Developer account to see, but an Apple spokesperson confirmed the language to Macworld as such: “Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.”
Some police departments actually publish the locations at which they’ll be conducting DUI checkpoints during big holidays like the Fourth of July, and app data obtained from public sources appears to be fine under the current policy. Some of the applications that drew Congressional ire, however, allow users to report checkpoints to the app developers for inclusion in a master database.
Still, as Macworld points out, apps that can be considered to “encourage and enable drunk driving” would appear to include a wide swath of the DUI-oriented apps in the App Store. Buzzed, the application shown at left, was still in the App Store as of this writing.
It will be interesting to see if Google (NSDQ: GOOG) follows suit. It’s much easier for Apple to yank unpopular or possibly illegal applications from its App Store given the tight control it exerts over the system. Google, on the other hand, famously permits application developers to essentially do whatever they want, although things are obviously different when federal and state laws come into play.
A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for an update on Google’s policy toward DUI apps in the Android Market.