The Textalyzer! Sounds tough, like the Terminator. But what is it? And do I have to worry about it?
Being looked at by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and now Chicago as well, the Textalyzer is a device that will know if you are texting and driving. Sounds great, but what about your right to privacy? The boundaries of the Fourth Amendment are about to be stretched.
Cellebrite, the developer of the software, claims it only reveals actual usage of a cell phone, not the content. Thus, police won’t be able see photos, emails or texts. The actual device is a tablet that gets connected to a driver’s cell phone via a cable. It is believed within the year, multiple cities will be trying it.
Advocates in favor of the Textalyzer argue that cell phone records aren’t enough since social media applications aren’t traceable through phone records. Not to mention subpoenaing a social media company for records isn’t as easy as it sounds. From a Fourth Amendment aspect, a Supreme Court case in 2014- ruled that in order to search records on a phone, a search warrant was required.
For now, the Textalyzer will be used after a car accident, but, there is always the fear of the floodgates opening and soon law enforcement will stand by the side of the road with a device that will catch you using your cell phone while driving. Thus, comes the delicate balance of trying to weigh privacy rights versus saving lives.
As an attorney, my education contradicts my personal beliefs. As a strong advocate against texting and distracted driving, I’m for it, but that’s assuming there is no way to obtain private information from the cell phone as I would compare it to having a DUI roadside test. My only question, how long before instead of an officer using a speed gun, he/she is using the Textalyzer as a precursor for a traffic stop.
Below is a video segment by investigative reporter Jeff Rossen from NBC News using the Textalyzer. For prior motorcycle blogs, click here.