McLeish Orlando Partner, and founding member of the Coalition for Vulnerable Road User Laws, Patrick Brown, spoke to guest host Mary Ito on CBC’s Here and Now Toronto with Gill Deacon on November 1, 2019 about the controversial technology that would allow police to test cell phones in order to catch texting drivers, and the privacy concerns from advocates worried about what other information could be accessed.
The device, which happens to resemble an iPad, would be plugged into the person’s mobile device, and then it would download the activity on the device. It will give a time stamp of when the person was texting, on social media, or doing any other swiping.
“It’s looking for swipes and touches. It isn’t downloading any content from the phone,” says Patrick Brown.
Currently, police officers are not able to access a driver’s cell phone or information. After a crash, the police might request cell records from the mobile provider. Unless the officer has grounds, like a witness, then they might be able to access cell phone records to see if someone was in fact on their device during the time of the crash, otherwise it can be a lengthy process to obtain those records.
Right now, many states in the U.S. are looking into using this textalyzer device. It has not been fully implemented into the United States, but there is legislation being pursued by different states for the textalyzers.
On why we need the textalyzer device in Ontario, Brown says, “Right now we are in a crisis. We are having pedestrians struck down on the sidewalks. We know that more than 50% of people are using these devices while driving…It is a real problem. You can increase all of the penalties you want for distracted driving. But if you aren’t going to catch the culprits, then you aren’t going to see the change you need.”