Police are soon coming out with a device called a “textalyzer” which will be able to tell if a phone had been used recently while driving.
According to Rare,
BONNIE KRISTIAN, RARE CONTRIBUTOR |POSTED ON APRIL 28, 2016 1:47 PM
Suppose a police officer pulls you over because he believes you rolled through a stop sign. When he comes up to your window, he asks if you were texting while driving (which is illegal in 46 out of 50 states).
You say no—but he doesn’t believe you. Soon, he may be able to force you to hand over your phone so he can plug it into a device called a “Textalyzer”:Based on the breathalyzer test for alcohol, the Textalyzer would allow a police officer responding to an accident to scan the phones of any drivers and determine if the phones had recently been used. If a driver refuses to hand over his or her phone, the New York bill would allow suspending that driver’s license for up to a year, the same as with refusing a breathalyzer test.
The ban on legal refusal would be based on the same “implied consent” logic of the breathalyzer: If you apply for a driver’s license, that’s considered consent to a warrantless breathalyzer test on pain of losing the state’s permission to drive you car.
Needless to say, the privacy concerns here are huge. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2014 that police cannot search a cell phone against its owner’s consent without a warrant, and the Textalyzer would easily run afoul of that decision.
“It really invites police to seize phones without justification or warrant,” explains Donna Lieberman of ACLU New York.
Worse yet, it’s not hard to imagine the Textalyzer getting a new capability of scanning your phone not just for the time of recent activity but for keywords—like, say, slang terms that indicate marijuana use.
And then suddenly you’ve gone from maybe a warning for rolling through a stop sign to drug charges—and the Fourth Amendment has gone out the window.
Of course, texting while driving is dangerous, and we shouldn’t do it. But letting cops have unfettered digital access to our phones is very dangerous, too.
Is this going to help with the texting and driving dangers that we face today or is this an infringement on our privacy? Is this taking police power too far to be able to monitor our phones?