Texting Bans

New York Lawmakers Back Unwarranted Phone Searches of Drivers

On the pretext of texting safety, they want to give cops free rein to suspend licenses and fine drivers without charges or conviction.

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texting and driving
Arne9001

Lawmakers in New York want to give police the authority to search without a warrant phones of people involved in crashes to crack down on drivers texting behind the wheel.

If that weren't intrusive enough, the bill would authorize police to immediately suspend the driver's license for a minimum of one year of anybody with the temerity to resist a search. And this suspension, along with fines of $500 to $750, would stick regardless of whether or not the person was ultimately found guilty of a crime.

This significant end run around citizens' rights to privacy and due process gets only the slightest attention from a recent NBC News story. Instead, NBC was on hand to hype the technology involved.

Mobile forensics text company Cellebrite is working on a tool called the "textalyzer," which they're marketing to lawmakers and police agencies as a breathalyzer for phones. Connect the textalyzer to a phone and it is able to determine what you had been doing with it at any time, including which apps had been recently used.

This is private data that could be used to implicate people for crimes. A representative for the American Civil Liberties Union worried that police could use it to get all sorts of additional information. The CEO of Cellebrite says it can't access actual communications data; it's just determining what you're accessing. They're essentially arguing, "We're not trying to snoop on the content of your conversations, but we still think we should be able to access your data in order to collect potential evidence of a crime."

And they should be able to—once they get a warrant. But for those supporting Senate bill S2306 (and its Assembly counterpart A3955), the process of getting a warrant is just too much work. The bill is being pushed along by the father of a teen killed in a car crash, so it's a familiar case of a tragedy leading to poorly thought-up, rights-violating legislation. Ben Lieberman's son, Evan, was killed in a car crash in 2011 and Ben found out months after the fact that the driver of the car he was in had been texting.

From NPR:

"We often hear, 'just get a warrant' or 'just get the phone records.' … The implication is that the warrant is like filling out some minor form," he says. "It's not. In New York, it involves a D.A. and a judge. Imagine getting a D.A. and a judge involved in every breathalyzer that's administered, every sobriety test that's administered."

Lieberman filed a civil lawsuit to subpoena the phone records, which showed the driver had been texting before the crash. But even getting the phone records won't tell you much, he says. "It doesn't detect any of the important distractions, like email, social media or Web browsing."

Advocates keep making the breathalyzer comparison for a reason: Courts have ruled that these types of sobriety tests are not terribly intrusive and therefore do not require a warrant. But what this law actually proposes is forcing drivers to allow police to access private, personal data. (It's also worth observing that Lieberman is working directly with Cellebrite, according to NPR, so the advocate for the legislation is partnering with the company that wants to provide the tools that would be used.)

A more accurate comparison would be North Dakota's law that punished suspected drunken drivers for refusing to submit to warrantless blood tests. That's the law the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional because of its intrusiveness.

Legislators had hoped to pass it by the end of their session this month, but the bill didn't make it. To be clear, though, its prospects are not dead, and the state Senate's Transportation Committee gave it a unanimous thumbs up.

Expect to see it back next year.

NEXT: Philando Castile's Mother to Get $3 Million From City That Hired Cop Who Killed Him

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  1. If that weren’t intrusive enough, the bill would authorize police to immediately suspend the driver’s license for a minimum of one year of anybody with the temerity to resist a search.

    CA has this same penalty for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. I’m not a lawyer, but suspending your license without even the pretense of a court hearing seems like a pretty clear violation of right to due process.

    1. That’s pretty much a national thing by now, I think. A driver’s license is not a right, son, it’s a privilege, and even though you may absolutely need one in order to put food in your kids’ mouths, they can take it away without any of the usual constitutional impediments.

      1. A driver’s license is not a right, son, it’s a privilege,

        and even though you may absolutely need one in order to put food in your kids’ mouths

        So let’s attach that “privilege” to some completely arbitrary limits as to what you can put into your body!

        If you want to feed your kids, don’t cross that limit.

        1. City functionaries have hungry kids too.

          1. And they can get fucked, too. Using your property (such as your car) shouldn’t be limited by the government. They shouldn’t charge extortionist “registration” fees, either. There is nothing about this that is anything other than theft and abuse of power. Eat shit, Tony.

      2. I know driving is considered a privilege but I’ve never understood how driving is not a right considering I have the right to travel and the government has taken all the roads, the only means of getting from a to b without going through private property. My right to utilize the roads should not be limited to false ideas of privilege making people second class persons

        1. You can always walk or hitch hike, I guess.

          And it’s not even a privilege to use public roads now. In many states, you can get convicted of DUI for driving drunk on your own property. Which seems really ridiculous to me.

          1. If I got a DUI on my own property, I would be tempted to run the guy over with the car and claim he was trespassing. For real.

          2. Or not driving on your own property. Get drunk and pass out in the front seat of your minivan in your driveway and you could get a DUI, having never driven anywhere and having never left your own property.

        2. The logic is OK but it leads to some end-runs around the spirit of the constitution. And there are lawyers arguing the point, but MADD and the perception of drunk driving as being a black void of pure evil makes it something less than a major priority for lawmakers.

          1. MADD, like the AARP is one of those orrganizations that looks good at first glance, but once you dig in, you realize how completely insane their outlooks really are.

    2. I am totally out of room in my notebook of reasons to avoid NY.

      1. I have come here to take notes on why no one should live here and kick anyone’s ass who does… and I’m all out of room in my notebook.

    3. In Canada, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer carries the equivalent penalty upon conviction as blowing over.
      That wasn’t enough for the MADD cunts, who lobbied provinces to create penalties that went around the Criminal Code of Canada. Drivers can now have their vehicles impounded and fines levied on the spot for blowing well under the legal limit. It’s basically a roadside tax on drinking and driving that’s not even drunk driving as defined in the Criminal Code.
      While texting and driving is a scourge, this law will lead nowhere good from a civil liberties standpoint.

  2. Yes, we should get rid of legal protections against search and seizure because they inconvience law enforcement.

    Someone seems to be missing the point of lehal rights (or they know just what it is they are doing in undermining them)..

  3. “Imagine getting a D.A. and a judge involved in every breathalyzer that’s administered, every sobriety test that’s administered.”

    Okay, I’m there. Go on.

    1. …every text that is ever sent by stupid teenagers.

  4. Cop: Give me your password please sir.

    Me: No, I don’t think I will

    Cop: Give it sir.

    Me: but..

    Cop: Drop your weapon! Bang!

  5. I’m unclear on exactly how this gizmo is going to read my texts in the first place if I don’t unlock the phone, and how it will detect texting without reading the actual content in the second place.

    I had a fingerprint sensor phone. I set it up to only recognize the middle finger, figuring I could make a great show of trying to unlock it with my index finger until the phone finally said too many tries and insisted on the password. That would have been some legal protection, since some courts have held that fingerprint unlocks are not self-incriminating in the same way a password is.

    What I really wanted was to set up my index finger print to lock it even more than usual, so I’d have to go to some website and enter yet another password.

  6. I like fast cars and driving them. But if I didn’t absolutely need one to get to places without resorting to the city bus, I would get rid of mine solely because they are rights-free zones in which a missing decal or broken taillight can land you in a world of shit (or dead if you’re black).

    1. Cars bore me and I’m glad to live somewhere I don’t need one. And yes, it is quite easy to escape the attentions of New York’s Finest in large part by not driving a car.

      1. This is very true. Driving increases your chances of having a pig encounter my orders of magnitude.
        Of course, of you don’t live somewhere with decent public transportation, you’re SOL.

        1. Drive a car that isn’t too shitty and don’t speed more than everyone else is. That’s what I do and I can count the number of times I’ve been stopped (in over 20 years of driving) on one hand and have never had a ticket (well one that got thrown out).

          1. I was missing a license plate decal and things kind of spiraled from there due to circumstances. I wasn’t behind on my (excessive) license fee, the sticker was simply missing. Maybe it was stolen (did I mention my state’s fees are excessive?), maybe it came off in a car wash. But it was a pretext for fucking some people I care about over royally.

            1. Yeah, anything can happen even if you’re careful. This is why I don’t like laws that give police more occasions to stop them or otherwise interfere.

      2. Rhywun: Cars Bore Him

        1. Driving sucks. I would give up my car if I could.

          1. I hate driving, but I need to go places.

            My next car will be self-driving.

          2. >>>Driving sucks.

            that makes my soul sad.

        2. Discovering what excites him will leave you speechless.

          1. There’s one weird trick I’m not going to reveal.

          2. Is it #7 on the list?

  7. “But what this law actually proposes is forcing drivers to allow police to access private, personal data.”

    Nothing to see there. The TSA cops certainly don’t abuse their power.

  8. They should really ban anything at all that could possibly distract a driver, such as children, animals, shiny objects, balloons, radios, CD’s, cassette players, hauling anything at all, and every vehicle must be hermetically sealed to avoid any undue outside smells or pollen from entering the car and causing a fiery death explosion.

    Because here’s the thing, people who are going to text while driving are legitimately retarded, so making their current retardation illegal will only do three things off-hand:

    A) Put lots of retarded people in jail
    B) Generate lots of revenue for the state
    C) Cause people to do something else retarded to the same exact effect.

    People seem to think that the phones are the issue instead of the retard using it. Typical progressive idiot logic. If anything, being Progressive while driving should be illegal since it’s clear that their decision making processes are inherently flawed. /sarc

    1. D). People are going to lose their jobs and/or upend their lives.

      1. Counter? There is a kid somewhere in the universe so….Law!

    2. That and progs are pussies and that leads to defensive driving which is dangerous.

    3. Were I not for liberty, would be a pleasure to put all progs on an island and see who emerges alive.

      My guess would be Hillary Clinton and maybe Stalin.

      1. You’re a bit of a one-note loon, you know?

        1. No time to talk. You would get eaten by Hillary. When up against a monster, you can’t take any time to kiss her ass. Just shoot.

          1. If Stalin is equivalent to a modern-day American Democrat, then you have to concede that makes you Hitler. And Stalin at least is still popular in Russia.

            1. Wrong analogy Copernicus.

              Hitler was a leftist too. You see, fascism, socialism, and communism are all leftist systems in descending order of government collusion until the inevitable takeover and collapse.

              Why must you pick fights? You’re like a crazy bitch. Well, like…

              1. Horseshit of the highest order. Hitler came to power on an anti-communist platform. Your point makes sense only if words and concepts have no meaning.

                1. In all fairness, Hitler also ran on an anti-capitalist platform. And the economic policies of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party were decidedly socialist, though not communist. Just like the Fascists in Italy, the Nazis wanted the big companies to be forced to work for the good of the state (not unlike what supposedly “Communist” China is today).

                  So economically, the Nazis were to the left of the US and probably the non-fascist rest of Western Europe, but to the right of the Soviet Union. However, if personal freedom (as opposed to economic freedom) is the measure, they both sucked about equally.

                  But really, I think it is just a good example why the Left-Right spectrum isn’t particularly useful, especially when comparing today’s US with other countries over the last 100 years.

                  If one is even somewhat libertarian leaning, then both ideologies are equally abhorrent because they both espouse the idea that the group is more important than the individual.

    4. I could easily counter this by noting that before the rise of cell phones cab drivers pretty much just paid attention to the road. Now, they are on the phone 100% of the time.

      1. We need to come up with some new technology to render cabbies obsolete.

      2. Talking on the phone, or texting? Because talking inside a car has been going on since…literally forever.

        1. Oh, talking. My point was that they were not talking before. Now they are talking the entire trip. And it shows in their driving.

      3. “before the rise of cell phones cab drivers pretty much just paid attention to the road”

        No. They were usually stuffing their faces with a greasy burger and telling you how they would run the world. Every so often, they’d look at you while you spoke so you got a view of the half chewed burger.

    5. They should really ban anything at all that could possibly distract a driver

      Think of the *revenue*!

  9. Lawmakers in New York want to give police the authority

    My reaction.

  10. Time to get one of those emergency use only phones and keep it in the glove box.

    1. Let’s go back to CBs Everyone can get a call sign again.

      Then we all might get some of that Sally Field ass?

      1. 10-4 good buddy!

      2. Ali MacGraw > Sally Field, therefore Convoy > Smokey and The Bandit.

        1. Hotter yes but still rather homely for another outlaw 70s redneck movie.

          1. still rather homely

            What a positively MJGreenian comment.

        2. my problem with Convoy is they drove too fucking slow…Bandit brought excitement via speed

      3. breaker-breaker-1-9 wouldn’t you just be timbo?

        Dillinger, out.

      4. I still have my CB – – you can only listen to so much rock and roll on a long road trip. And I like to know where the county bounties, bears, and white wrappers are.

        1. I can always count on h&r comments to expand my vocabulary

  11. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving” is another recent favorite here in NY.

    1. That’s just abuse of the dictionary.

  12. No problem here. This proposal follows the somehow legal concept of asset forfeiture.
    No need for annoying constitutional protections, just give the cop whatever he wants, and shut up.
    If you wanted constitutional protections, you would stay in your home behind locked doors, and only communicate with a quill pen, parchment, and postal delivery.

    1. Well, you wouldn’t want to use the post office itself though. You would want to use FedEx.

    2. Lotta good those locked doors will do when the SWAT team arrives.

  13. dicks. what if i’m on the non-culpable end of the mva, but texting none the same?

    1. Then you have a “CellPhone-Involved Accident”

    2. So you think innocence matters?

      Silly you!

  14. Connect the textalyzer to a phone and it is able to determine what you had been doing with it at any time, including which apps had been recently used.

    That’s impressive but does it work on Presidential Nominees’ phones? How about old email servers I may have sitting around in the closet?

    1. Be an ape-like luddite, become president!

      1. It must really suck to realize the people chose someone you think of as an “ape-like luddite” over your career criminal.

  15. Lawmakers in New York want to give police the authority to search without a warrant phones of people involved in crashes to crack down on drivers texting behind the wheel.

    I sure hope lawmakers don’t forget to exclude police phones from this.

    1. And lawmakers phones, and ex-lawmakers phones…..

  16. stay out of New York, unfortunately once one state gets away with it the others will follow suit

    1. And if you are in New England, you’ll have to go through Canada to go anywhere.

      1. If you are in New England, you’ve already got enough problems.

        1. Yeah, but the same can be said of people not in New England.

          1. Yes, but those people are not in New England, so they got that going for them, which is nice.

            1. Being in New England is like being stuck in England all over again.

            2. Yeah, well, at least we don’t all fuck our sisters and eat chitterlings every night.

  17. Ben Lieberman’s son, Evan, was killed in a car crash in 2011 and Ben found out months after the fact that the driver of the car he was in had been texting.

    It must be horrible to realize your son could have prevented his own death by simply telling the driver to stop texting.

    1. State solution: don’t just punish the person whose negligence killed somebody else – punish thousands of people who haven’t hurt anybody!

  18. Christ, what assholes.

    1. Augh.. posting from a phone. Link the old no html way:.

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com…..ticle.html

    2. I imagine the far, far left has been calling the NYT establishment propaganda for a century or more.

      1. Except context matters. In this context, they are being called out for tying a left-wing comedian to Donald Trump and the Russia propaganda machine.

        1. I didn’t know what to make of any of that. Other than “I’m glad I don’t read the NYT or listen to far-left comedians.”

          1. That was my feeling too. Any comedian trying to make America better deserves to get chewed up by his own.

        2. And? The guy has a show on RT. WaPo uncritically passed along that ‘Russian propaganda blacklist’ that included lefty sites, one of which was NakedCapitalism. I don’t think there’s anything new or surprising in some NYT writer blasting someone on the far, Bernie-fied left, or someone from the latter blasting the former for shoddy reporting.

  19. Cop: were you texting?
    Me: no officer, I was sexting… Your mother.
    Cop: ok get out of the car!
    Me: i can’t, she isn’t finished

    1. This seems like a good way to get a police dog up you.

      1. Is that what thislittle guy has been bred for? Say it ain’t so.

  20. Cop: were you texting?
    Me: no officer, I was sexting… Your mother.
    Cop: ok get out of the car!
    Me: i can’t, she isn’t finished

    1. You don’t come here for the driving, do you.

      1. He’s not gonna come at all if the cop doesn’t quit hassling him.

  21. If that weren’t intrusive enough, the bill would authorize police to immediately suspend the driver’s license for a minimum of one year of anybody with the temerity to resist a search. And this suspension, along with fines of $500 to $750, would stick regardless of whether or not the person was ultimately found guilty of a crime.

    How else can you enforce such a law?

  22. They should just outlaw texting in NY. Just make it a felony to have a device that can send or receive text messages. Problem solved. Everyone safe.

    1. Everyone safe.

      Certainly everyone on Anthony Weiner’s contact list.

  23. Those lawmakers are either insane or evil.

  24. ”Imagine getting a D.A. and a judge involved in every breathalyzer that’s administered, every sobriety test that’s administered.”

    Imagine.

    This fucker is going to end up creating some MADD-level of cuntery that will further erode our civil liberties and it still won’t bring his kid back, may he rest in peace.

  25. Thank goodness that the driverless car will allow us to keep our rights.

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