Police in New York state are looking to implement a device known as the “textalyzer” to quickly check if a phone has been used before a crash, the Associated Press reported. (A breathalyzer checks to see if you’ve been drinking, the textalyzer checks to see if you’ve been texting.)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a review of the technology.
Critics of the new devices believe this could threaten citizens' privacy and civil liberties. The device plugs into a phone, and after about a minute, indicates whether the driver was texting, emailing, or otherwise using their cellphone before a crash. The device is not meant to track any specific data, like which websites were accessed or personal information.
“I am extremely nervous about handing a cellphone to a law enforcement officer and allowing them in any way to forensically analyze it,” Rainey Reitman, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the AP. “This is a technology that is incredibly problematic and at the same time is unnecessary. There are already legal avenues for a police officer.”
Still, others remain proponents of the new device, maintaining that it will save lives.
“This review will examine the effectiveness of using this new emerging technology to crack down on this reckless behavior and thoroughly evaluate its implications to ensure we protect the safety and privacy of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement, according to AP.