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How would the 'textalyzer' work in New York State?

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 18:07:59-04

Governor Cuomo instructed his Traffic Safety Committee to study the 'textalyzer' technology that would allow police to check cell phones and determine if a driver was using his or her phone in the moments leading up to a crash.

Ben Lieberman hopes that will lead to legislation moving forward in Albany, allowing police to use the technology across the state.

Lieberman works with two distracted driving awareness groups: Distracted Operators Risk Casualties and the Alliance Combating Distracted Driving. He started advocating on the issue after his 19-year-old son, Evan, was killed in 2011. Evan died in a car accident caused by a driver in another vehicle texting on a cell phone.

Cellebrite is developing the technology and Lieberman meets regularly with the company's staff to discuss the product. The company currently has a working prototype, but Lieberman says it would develop a final device to meet any specific criteria laid out in final legislation, if the effort makes it that far.

The device is not designed to read or collect any private information or specific messages, according to Lieberman. He says it can only tell if a phone was physically being used, not how it was used.

"I understand why a whole lot of people would be concerned about privacy, I'm concerned about privacy," Lieberman said. "I don't want to be responsible for legislation or technology that would invade anybody's privacy. But I don't want to bury another child either."