Entries in Apps (2)


Teen Flirting App Linked to Rapes

Goodshoot RF/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Skout, a popular mobile flirting application, has suspended its service for teenagers after it was linked to three sexual assaults in recent weeks, causing developers to re-evaluate its security measures.

The separate sexual assaults involved two girls, ages 12 and 15, and a 13-year-old boy. All were allegedly victimized by adults posing as teens.

"For now, we believe that there's only one thing we can do: until we can design better protections, we are temporarily shutting down the under-18 community," founder and CEO Christian Wiklund said in a statement posted on the company's blog.

The mobile networking app, which was originally intended for adults, launched an offshoot for teens last year after developers realized teens were using the adult version.

Despite the additional security measures the teen version touted, the application has shown it needs more safety controlls, Wiklund said, adding that he takes the assaults very seriously.

His team is "working around the clock to build better safeguards," including an age verification system, he said.

"We will not compromise the safety of our community, and right now, our concerns are too significant to simply stand by and do nothing," Wiklund said in his blog post.

The social networking app, which works on iPhones and Android devices, claims it is one of the largest mobile networks for meeting new people.

In April of 2012, Skout secured $22 million in funding from the powerhouse tech venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose clients include Foursquare and Air BnB.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Law Protects Hackers' Ability to Screen DUI Checkpoints

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Want to avoid DUI checkpoints? There are apps for that.

And while lawmakers called on smartphone companies last week to ban the programs that could enable drunk drivers to steer clear of police traps, legal experts say the law protects hackers who install unapproved software onto their phones.

So far, Research in Motion, the company that makes Blackberry phones, is the only company that has complied with the request from four Democratic senators. But even if companies were to ban all DUI dodging apps from their online store, customers would still have a legal right to bypass security software independently.

An exemption was granted in 2010 by the Library of Congress, the office that oversees copyrights, making it impossible for companies to sue individuals for circumventing the company's proprietary security software.

Under the revised rules, it's not illegal for wireless telephone users to hack into a company's security system to access programs that the company has previously disabled if the intent of the hacker is to simply use those programs. This is cited on the government's website as exempt from the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed during the Clinton administration.

"Jailbreaking" or "rooting" a phone is a term used by hackers to describe the process in which a smartphone is unhinged from company control -- it allows for the installation of unapproved programs. Savvy customers could load up the DUI dodging software as long as the program wasn't obtained illegally.

But surely an app that warns the driver of a nearby police DUI checkpoint must be illegal? Not so -- mobile applications such as Trapster work by allowing individuals to report the location of a police DUI checkpoint or speeding camera nearby thus creating a so-called "Trap Map" displayable on the dashboard of a car.

Because the handheld app gathers information through ordinary citizens phoning in the location of checkpoint, legal experts say that there is no way to write a law banning this without encroaching on our right to freedom of expression guaranteed in the Constitution.

Emma Llansó, a fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology specializing in First Amendment issues, she doesn't believe that the senators have any legal recourse to outlaw the apps.

And because of the ban's likely violation of the Constitution, Congress will likely never create a law banning the app.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio