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How the 'textalyzer' could help cops nab distracted drivers, and the privacy issues at play

by AirTalk®

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A driver uses a phone while behind the wheel of a car on April 30, 2016 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Should police have access to technology that allows them to check and see if a driver at the scene of an accident was using his or her mobile device prior to the crash?

bill moving through New York’s Senate that would allow them to do just that. Police officers at car crash sites would be able to use a device plug-in to assess whether a driver had been using their phone and, according to the bill's supporters, expedite the process of determining whether a crash was caused by distracted driving.

Cellebrite, the company developing this plug-in, says it would detect usage through taps and swipes and not allow police to see any personal or private data. Still, privacy advocates have concerns that the device might be used to access people’s private information.

What constitutional and privacy concerns does a “textalyzer” present? Would you want police officers to use them?  


Ben Lieberman, supporter of the bill and co-founder of the advocacy group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties

Rashida Richardson, legislative counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union

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