Proposed 'Textalyzer' Law in New York a Threat to Your Privacy?

Police would be allowed to scan your phone after a car crash to see if you were texting and driving under a proposed ‘textalyzer’ bill in New York.  Former prosecutor Katie Phang explained the implications of the proposed bill.

“This proposed bill tracks the language from New York’s current law on distracted talking, texting and driving.  It includes checking out the internet, texting, looking at photos, talking on the phone, so anything you just said would actually implicate you in this law,” said Phang.

Phang then discussed the tough consequences if found guilty under the proposed bill.

“The language is a little bit too extreme and frankly it raises all of the questions that you just asked.  And it really will create a challenge if you go to court.” Phang continues, “It would cause a license suspension of 12 months the first time you violate and it would be 18 months of your license revoc ation if you’ve done it a second time within 5 years.

Former Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli weighed in on the debate between efforts to improve safety and the privacy concerns raised by this proposed legislation.

“I think the safety far outweighs the privacy issue in this isolated incident, I do a lot of driving and it’s very frustrating to either be behind or you go to intersections you’re always looking left and right more cautiously.  You really have to be a more defensive driver today with that going on I think,” Nardelli said.

Despite the proposed bill’s focus on improving safety, Phang says the concerns over privacy are valid.

“Nobody disputes the actual policy reasons behind the bill are noble, powerful and … but the privacy concerns that are raised are legitimate ones, it’s going to spawn a whole new group of criminal defense attorneys that came to the forefront during the breathalyzer introduction.  They’re going to challenge the reliability and the accuracy of these machines,” Phang said.

Phang then explained why the company behind the ‘textalyzer’ device adds to the concerns over privacy.

“Cellebrite is the company, it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Japanese company called Sun Corp. (NASDAQ:SNNNF).  Sun Corp. stock went up 40% after it was insinuated that Cellebrite was used by the FBI to hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone which caused that huge Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) controversy and that legal battle, so if that’s the case Cellebrite, it’s got a 55% market share of the U.S. mobile forensics market, it’s a legitimate company with serious tech.” Phang continued, “I’d be worried if I was going to be a cell phone user and the police are going to be saying ‘I’m not going to big brother you, I’m really not going to check on what you were doing but they will.”