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Entries in Tom Udall (2)

Tuesday
Mar222011

Senators Ask Apple to Pull Checkpoint-Dodging Apps

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Smartphone applications that share information about police D.U.I checkpoints and speed traps may be a boon for drivers hoping to avoid tickets (or worse), but a group of U.S. senators says they're nothing but a public safety hazard.

In fact, they think the apps are so dangerous that in a letter to Apple, Research In Motion (which makes BlackBerrys) and Google Tuesday, Senators Harry Reid, D-Nev., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., urged the companies to remove the applications that they say help drunk drivers evade police.

"We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality," the letter says.

In the Apple App Store, applications like PhantomAlert, Trapster, iRadar and others claim to help drivers avoid speed traps, police checkpoints and other traffic stops by crowdsourcing the reports of other drivers and disseminating police warnings.

Considering that more than 10,000 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes every year (with one drunk-driving related death every 50 minutes), the senators say that it's a matter of "grave concern" to them that smartphone customers can download the D.U.I.-checkpoint-dodging applications so easily.

In the letter, they cite a recent USA Today article in which a police captain says the popular checkpoint alert apps are troubling.

"If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?" Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County Police Department told the paper. "They're only thinking of one consequence, and that's being arrested. They're not thinking of ending the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, other passengers in their cars or themselves."

But Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomAlert, a Harrisburg, Pa., company that makes a popular checkpoint alert app for all kinds of smartphones, said he thought the senators' letter was a "knee-jerk reaction."

"If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve, they would actually support us," he said. "We're doing exactly what the police departments are doing -- putting up PSAs and letting people know there are checkpoints -- to deter people from drinking and driving," Scott said, adding that the only real difference is that his app shares the information in real-time.

A driver who may have been drinking could look at all the D.U.I. checkpoints highlighted on PhantomAlert's map and decide to take a cab or catch a ride with a friend, he said.

Apple, Research in Motion and Google did not immediately respond to requests from comment from ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Dec312010

Senate Majority Rules? Senator Wants Showdown on Filibuster Reform

Photo Courtesy - Tom Udall [dot] Senate [dot] gov(NEW YORK) -- Their majority dwindling, some Senate Democrats are planning a showdown on the first day of the new Congress over limiting Republicans' ability to hold up legislation through filibusters.

"We don't want to give the minority the ability to block the majority from governing," Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, a leading proponent of filibuster reform, told ABC News.

According to Udall, momentum is building behind his effort to amend Senate Rule XXII, which allows 3/5ths of the Senate -- or 60 members -- to invoke "cloture" and end debate.  Failure to clear that 60-vote hurdle leaves a bill on the table, effectively killing it, and is commonly referred to as a modern "filibuster."

Udall proposes that senators who wish to hold up a piece of legislation be required to engage in a "talking filibuster," in which they would continuously speak on the floor, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"-style, rather than simply using a failed cloture vote to kill a bill.

Udall also wants to eliminate so-called "anonymous holds" that allow any senator to issue a silent objection, freezing a bill or nomination.´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio