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Cellebrite is Behind a NY Bill that will Allow Police to Perform a Textalyzer Test at the Scene of an Accident


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It was reported on last week that New York State Senator Terrence Murphy (R-Westchester) and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz (D-Kings), together with awareness organization Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) announced a joint effort that could go a long way in protecting innocent people from injuries caused by distracted driving. Senator Murphy and Assemblyman Ortiz have introduced a bipartisan state bill, making New York the first state to attempt a distracted driving policy solution that enables police to examine phones at an accident site in a way that, notably, completely avoids drivers' personal data. The technology company behind the new Textalyzer test is Cellebrite, the company who was thrust into the public's eye when assisting the FBI unlock an iPhone from the San Bernardino terrorist and more recently, assisting a grieving father in obtaining photos and videos locked in his dead son's iPhone 6.


DORCs co-founder, Ben Lieberman, a staunch advocate against distracted driving since he and his family lost their 19-year-old son, Evan, in a 2011 collision caused by a distracted driver, has been working closely with Senator Murphy and Assemblyman Ortiz to implement the new law, known as "Evan's Law."


For weeks following the crash that resulted in Evan's death, the driver's phone was sitting in a junkyard, and police never retrieved the phone or phone records. Through his own civil lawsuit, Lieberman subpoenaed the phone records and discovered the driver had been texting while he was driving, leading up to the crash. Lieberman was surprised to learn that the local police force was not to blame for avoiding the driver's device, but rather that this was typical because there is no official, consistent police protocol.


"The general public knows distracted driving is a problem, but if people knew the extent of the damage caused by this behavior, they would be amazed," said Lieberman. "With our current laws, we're not getting accurate information because the issue is not being addressed at the heart of the problem—with the people causing the collisions."


"I have often heard there is no such thing as a breathalyzer for distracted driving—so we created one," Lieberman continued. "Respecting drivers' personal privacy, however, is also important, and we are taking meticulous steps to not violate those rights."


A key part of the legislation involves new "Textalyzer" technology that will allow officers to detect whether or not the device was being used around the time of a crash, but will not provide access to any content—keeping conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private.


Cellebrite, the leader in mobile device forensics solutions, is developing this capability for officers to detect device usage in the field while maintaining the privacy of data stored on the device. "Cellebrite has been leading the adoption of field mobile forensics solutions by law enforcement for years, culminating in the formal introduction of our UFED FIELD series product line a year ago," said Jim Grady, CEO, Cellebrite, Inc. "We look forward to supporting DORCs and law enforcement—both in New York and nationally—to curb distracted driving."


Assemblyman Ortiz said, "I'm proud to have been an early advocate to combat distracted driving and the sponsor of the nation's first law banning talking on a phone while driving. Unfortunately, the problem has now developed beyond hands-free phone calling. There's a significant number of drivers who continually engage in reckless behavior, such as texting, using apps and browsing the web on their mobile devices while behind the wheel. These people will continue to put themselves and others at risk unless we come up with preventive ways to successfully stop them."


"According to the National Safety Council car crash statistics spiked significantly this year and that is the first increase after ten years of steady decline. Since drunk driving is down and today's cars are built better than ever, the addition of mobile devices in our lives becomes the most likely reason for this sudden increase," said DORCs co-founder Deborah Becker.


"When people were held accountable for drunk driving, that's when positive change occurred. It's time to recognize that distracted driving is a similar impairment, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion. This is a way to address people who are causing damage," said Lieberman.


I'm sure that once this kind of legislation has been proven successful that it will swiftly move to other States and Canadian Provinces in the coming years. Who hasn't seen someone attempting to text while driving? It's a real danger and I'm sure that most responsible drivers will applaud this bill.


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