It looks like cell phone privacy really is a thing of the past as New York prepares to pass a bill allowing police to steal people’s cell phone data.
A bill currently working its way through the New York state legislature that would allow cops to search through drivers’ cell phones following traffic incidents, even minor fender-benders, to determine if the person was using their phone while behind the wheel.
“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 have laws banning the use of mobile devices while driving, but these laws are rarely enforced unless the person is actually caught in the act or admits to the police officer that they were using their phone while driving.
Technology now exists that would give police the power to plug drivers phones into tablet-like devices,
“textalyzers” that tell officers exactly what they were doing on their phone and exactly when they were doing it. And if the readout shows a driver was texting while driving, for instance, the legal system will have an additional way to fine them.
Recording your every click, tap or swipe, it would even know what apps you were using on your phone. Police officers could download all the data at any location.
Proponents of the legislation point to the rise in traffic fatalities associated with using mobile devices while driving. But rights activists, such as Rashida Richardson of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says it’s a societal issue and no excuse to violate an individual’s 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.”
Tennessee and New Jersey are also considering similar legislation.