Textalyzer Device Will Allow Cops To Snoop Your Cell Phone To See If You’ve Been Texting While Driving

According to the National Safety Council, one-quarter of all accidents in the United States are caused by texting and driving. Approximately 330,000 people a year are injured due to accidents involving texting and driving. In order to combat the problem, some police departments in the US are currently testing the “Textalyzer”, a device that can reveal whether or not a person was on their mobile device while driving.

The Textalyzer is a tablet-like device and police officers will be able to connect the driver’s smartphone to it and download their activity data within a few seconds. The device records every click, tap or swipe, as well as the apps the driver was using at the time.

textalyzer device police
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The Textalyzer was developed by Cellebrite, the same company that supposedly unlocked the iPhone involved in the San Bernardino shooting. NBC’s Jeff Rossen visited Cellebrite headquarters and took the Textalyzer for a test drive. Cellebrite CEO Jim Grady was able to connect to Rossen’s device and determine his activity in only a few moments. Grady remarked, “I can see that you opened WhatsApp at 2:45. There’s several Facebook activity. You received an incoming call at 2:59 and you sent an SMS at 3 o’clock.”

Some are concerned that the Textalyzer could lead to invasions of privacy. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued, “There’s no guarantee when you hand over your cell phone over to the police officer that that officer won’t be looking at or copying all kinds of personal data about you.” Cellebrite's CEO contends that the Textalyzer simply recorded swipes and taps, application names, and a time log, and does not download any other personal information.

textalyzer tested by nbc reporter
Image credit: NBC

There is currently a measure in New York waiting to be passed that would allow police officers to suspend a suspect’s license if they refused to hand over their mobile device. There is also similar legislation being considered in the city of Chicago and the states of New Jersey and Tennessee. It is important to note that the Textalyzer is still being tested and it is currently unclear how much information would be downloaded in a routine stop and what data would be retained afterward.