Senator Schumer Wants To Censor Google & Apple; Displays Ignorance Of Law

from the uh,-whoops dept

We already covered the grandstanding by various politicians on the issue of mobile privacy, but the hearing took an odd twist at one point. Senator Chuck Schumer, who has a habit of going off on weird tangents, went after both Google and Apple for not responding to his request that they both remove an app that highlights police check points from their mobile app stores. Apple exec Bud Tribble pointed out that such apps often publish data provided by police departments for the public.

Schumer found that to be preposterous:

?I don?t know of a police department that would publish where all of the checkpoints would be,? replies Schumer, calling Tribble?s response ?a weak read.?

Of course, as Danny Sullivan points out, in California, it’s actually required by law for all police departments to provide advance notice of roadblocks to the public. In fact, part of the reasoning is that publishing such info, so that people know there are such checkpoints, actually works as a disincentive for people to drink and drive.

It would appear that Senator Schumer owes Tribble a pretty big apology for calling his response “a weak read,” when Tribble’s response was completely accurate, and Schumer’s belief was incorrect.

Of course, the bigger issue here is that a representative for the US government is asking private companies to censor software and putting significant public pressure on them to do so. That seems to go against an even bigger principle, one found in the First Amendment. Perhaps Schumer can be forgiven for not knowing California state law, seeing as he’s not a resident here. But you would think he understood the First Amendment.

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Companies: apple, google

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Comments on “Senator Schumer Wants To Censor Google & Apple; Displays Ignorance Of Law”

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Stuart says:

Re: Re:

Congress has misplaced the First, Second and Fourth amendments. Hell lately it seems the only things they can find are the credit card and one particular reading of the commerce clause that they believe gives them the power to do anything anytime.

Politicians have no respect for us.
All of them.

They think we are stupid because no matter what they do
for the most part we just keep on electing them.

How could they have any respect for us. We do not deserve it and do not demand it. We for the most part just want free shit and to feel safe.

Anonymous Coward says:


First amendment rights relate to GOVERNMENT censoring free speech. It does not apply to private companies blocking “free speech” on company “grounds” (e.g. Apple’s App store).

Though I detest Schumer, he is not asking for Apple to do anything in violation of the First Amendment, since removing an app from the app store is perfectly in Apples purview to do, as they have done numerous times, and is not violating the First Amendment

Greg G (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hmmm. Ummm.. ok. Where does it stop? You say it’s liberal “dribble” (drivel?). Liberal’s (at least the extreme ones in government) are usually the ones that want to limit what citizens can say just because we may disagree.

Freedom of speech is pretty damn broad, but people like you allow it to be narrowed every day by statements like that.

One day it’s “don’t tell anyone where the cops are setting up roadblocks/checkpoints” and the next day it’ll be government telling Average Citizen to “shut up, we haven’t granted you the right to speak out against us” and then if you beg to differ, you end up in jail.

Suddenly it’s like Communist China and as you sit in a prison cell you are left wondering “when did we lose our freedom of speech?”

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Censorship

> I don’t see how child porn and publishing
> road blocks fall anywhere near freedom of speech.

That’s because you’re apparently a moron. Where child porn came from, I have no idea. No one claims child porn should have constitutional protection, certainly not the courts, and it has nothing to do with the issue under discussion.

As for the roadblocks, their existence and location are public information. Suggesting that such information should be censored by the government, either directly or indirectly, is certainly a bright-line 1st Amendment violation, according to 200+ years of constitutional jurisprudence.

Anonymous Coward says:

A technical question. Can one receive detailed checkpoint alerts while they a driving drunk and texting?

Frankly, I believe people may be inclined to too quickly raise a First Amendment issue in matters where sensitive data relevant to public safety is being disseminated indiscriminantely. I can envision circumstances where dissemination is quite useful, and even compelling. At the same time, I can envision circumstances where doing so could be very problematic for any number of reasons.

Where to draw a line? I do not know, but I do know that it is not as easy an issue as some may be inclined to believe.

Schumer may not be the paragon of intellectualism, but he and others on the Senate panel are at least trying to garner information that may begin a more comprehensive discussion of the issues(s).

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In the case of a California checkpoint the LAW REQUIRES this information to be published in advance and freely available to the public.

If that is what you have an issue with then you have an issue with the residents of my fine state who demanded this legal requirement.

If you don’t live in California, why is it your concern at all?

Texting while driving will net you a ticket for $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second. The ironic part is that if you get that text while driving, then subsequently get pulled over for texting while driving, you’ll end up with the DUI anyway! Good luck!

Havoc (profile) says:

Re: Re:

On your technical question, the answer is ‘yes’, there’s nothing to stop that. Now, to a larger question you didn’t ask: “have indiscriminate roadblocks stopped drunk drivers?”, the answer would also be ‘yes’, but nationwide the figure is .01%. That’s right, of ALL the drivers stopped and quizzed for ‘safety’, less than 1/100th of 1 per cent were arrested for DUI. Further, 2% were arrested/ticketed for other offenses unrelated to the stop, thereby invalidating the roadblock’s alleged purpose of catching drunk drivers. Protecting the children/general public from drunk drivers, OR a cash cow. Figures on money don’t lie.

229Mick says:

“But you would think he understood the First Amendment”

If they don’t get the 2nd amendment, 4th amendment or 10th amendment, I can’t expect anyone to get the 1st.

That’s the matter. If you let them take away rights you don’t care about, they’ll eventually get to one you do care about.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Its the LAW in FL too!

Can you provide a citation to a Florida Statute? I ask this because I am not aware of the requirement you mention regarding publication.

It is worthwhile noting that at least in California law enforcement officials are not required to identify where checkpoints will be located, but only that checkpoints will be established.

DannyB (profile) says:

Here's an idea for a new law . . .

Whenever a legislator votes for a piece of legislation that is found to be prima facie unconstitutional, that legislator is automatically removed from office. (Or some other penalty.)

After all, if legislators cannot be expected to pass laws that at least appear to be constitutional on their face, then who can?

This would have stopped the DMCA dead in its tracks?

Thomas (profile) says:

Members of Congress

are not required to know anything about the Constitution or enacted laws, so there’s no reason to be surprised when they propose laws that violate the Constitution. Even if they knew they would still propose the laws.

The government in general doesn’t give a rats tushie about the Constitution any more. they are only concerned with businesses and catching “terrorists”, but the definition of terrorist is now becoming anyone who doesn’t agree with government policies or calls them out for violating the constitution. It won’t be long before the SCOTUS accepts that people disagreeing with the government are terrorists who should be shot.

Anonymous Coward says:

?I don?t know of a police department that would publish where all of the checkpoints would be,? replies Schumer, calling Tribble?s response ?a weak read.?

and he probably doesn’t know that IP is bad for the public either. He probably still thinks it somehow magically promotes the progress.

That’s the problem with our legislatures, they don’t know anything.

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