New York state is currently considering arming police with the textalyzer, a device that would allow police officers, after a crash, to download information allowing them to see what the driver was doing with his or her smartphone immediately before the crash.
There is no doubt that allowing police to do so would be a deterrent to distracted driving. Motorists would know that if they were tweeting, texting or surfing the internet at the time of a crash, police would be able to determine that much more easily than they are at present. However, privacy advocates are concerned about allowing police to access some of our most private information-the information all of us have on our smartphones without obtaining a warrant. To allay those fears the textalyzer has been designed to only be capable of extracting information indicating what type of usage, i.e. whether the driver was texting or tweeting for example, but not the actual content of those texts or tweets. To obtain content, a search warrant would have to be obtained. So will New York state decide in favor of protecting the public or protecting privacy?