The New York State Legislature is considering a bill that will allow cops to review data in a driver’s cell phone following traffic accidents to determine if the driver was using the phone while behind the wheel.
Technology advances have resulted in a device known as a “textalyzer” that lets police plug a phone into a tablet-like device that downloads the data and provides a readout of how the phone might have been in use while driving.
The language in the draft New York bill explicitly provides authority to law enforcement to obtain the data:
Any person who operates a motor vehicle in the state shall be deemed to have given consent to field testing of his or her mobile telephone and/or personal electronic device for the purpose of determining the use thereof while operating a motor vehicle, provided that such testing is conducted by or at the direction of a police officer.”
Most states already have laws banning the use of mobile devices while driving. But the laws are hard to enforce because police must observe and catch drivers in the act of texting or talking on the phone.
What driver would openly admit to doing that after being pulled over, knowing the police have no way to prove it?
Those in favor of the legislation argue there has been a rise in traffic accidents and fatalities as the result of texting and driving. But privacy advocates, such as Rashida Richardson of the New York Civil Liberties Union, believe that’s no excuse to violate individual privacy.
This is a concern because our phones have some of our most personal and private information — so we’re certain that if this law is enforced as it is proposed, it will not only violate people’s privacy rights, but also civil liberties.”
In addition to New York, similar legislation is under consideration in New Jersey and Tennessee.
The issue brings into direct conflict the government duty to promote public safety with the individuals’ right to privacy and unwarranted searches that might incriminate them.
Source: Ron Paul Liberty Report
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