The “Textalyzer” is a tablet like device that plugs into a smart phone to scan data. Lawmakers in multiple states are seeking to pass legislation to utilize this Textalyzer device. Opposing these laws are privacy champions, who argue that this effort to crack down on distracted driving is classic government overreach. We have heard of DUI checkpoints but are “Textalyzer” checkpoints coming soon?
This new device can tell police if a motorist placed or received any calls, opened any apps, or sent any messages. It would give police exact times of the usage as well. For those that have had loved ones in accidents due to texting and driving, allowing this device is a no brainer. In 2015, nearly 3,500 people died in the United States as a result of distracted driving. They argue that privacy activists fears are not warranted because: 1) Many of the bills proposed, including the bill in the New York legislature, only allow the Textalyzer after an accident or collision and 2) The device can simply detect “swiping and typing”, not content.
This does not stop many from crying foul and arguing that Textalyzer’s use will become more widespread. They argue that this is just another way for the government to collect personal data. Opponents say that there are many methods that are far less intrusive to obtain phone records. Police can already ask a judge to issue an order for cell phone records. Privacy advocates also argue this device is not reliable enough for law enforcement use. (It has not been approved for law enforcement usage yet.) Still others argue that even if there are safeguards, this device will be abused by individual officers, nor do they trust the Government to keep the data safe from hackers.
Texting and driving is already illegal in 47 states. We will have to wait and see how many decide to adopt this new technology. Do not be surprised if in the next decade we begin to hear of “Textalyzer” checkpoints.