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January 18, 2016

DAILYKENN.com -- It's for our own good, they say. 

Authorities want to protect us from ourselves by rummaging through our cell phones. 

The proposed legislation in Vermont would allow police to snatch a driver's cell phone under the pretext of determining if the driver was texting while operating a motor vehicle. 

Initially, the laws — if passed — won't be terribly invasive. Police will only be allowed to see your text log to determine if the device was being used illegally. 

Presuming all officers are endowed with decency, they law would only be a minor invasion into our privacy and a mild infraction of our constitutional right prohibiting search and seizure. 

Not all cops are decent. Some will use the law as an intimidation device. Knowing full well the driver was not texting, the officer could snatch the phone holding the driver hostage. 

What more, such laws tend to morph from mildly invasive to overtly obtrusive. Recall, for example, when seat belt laws were first passed. Police were not allowed to pull over drivers for the express offense of going beltless. Once the law was on the books, legislators in many states added teeth allowing officers to detain any driver presumed not to be wearing a seat belt. 

The Vermont bill is a crack in the proverbial door. If passed, other state's will follow suit and in time the laws will allow traffic cops — complete strangers to most drivers — to invade their privacy without a warrant.

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Image credit: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS via  usatoday.com ####

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