Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

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

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: A driver uses a phone while behind the wheel of a car on April 30, 2016 in New York City. As accidents involving drivers using phones or other personal devices mount across the country, New York lawmakers have proposed a new test called the Textalyzer to help curb mobile phone usage behind the wheel. Similar to a Breathalyzer test, the Textalyzer would allow police to request phones from drivers involved in accidents and then determine if the phone had been used while the drivers operated their vehicles. The controversial bill is currently in the early committee stage. According to statistics, In 2014 431,000 people were injured and 3,179 were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A driver uses a phone while behind the wheel of a car on April 30, 2016 in New York City.

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?

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?  

Guests:

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

Stay Connected