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LOSING YOUR PRIVACY ONE DEVICE AT A TIME: PROOF OF INSURANCE CERTIFICATES ON YOUR PHONE

Are you willing to trade safety and security for convenience?

There is no doubt in my mind that Americans are a gullible lot. Willing to trade safety and security for ease, comfort and convenience.

Proof positive can be found in any one of the social network platforms which ostensibly allow you to communicate and share with your “friends,” but, in reality, are little more than marketing platforms to capture your private and personal information to sell to advertisers and others who want to pursue targeted marketing. With the unintended consequence of building an in-depth dossier of your activities that government agencies are legally prevented from capturing and storing.

Mobile devices are two-edged swords …

Similarly, we are now being offered the convenience of storing our “proof of insurance” certificates on our mobile devices – to be shown to any law enforcement officer upon request.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America note that eleven states now have revised their laws, rules and regulations to allow for the display of electronic insurance certificates and/or vehicle registration certificates when requested by any law enforcement officer involved in traffic enforcement or accident investigation. The states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia, and Wyoming. Kansas and Indiana are awaiting their governor’s signature. Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin are in the process of voting on similar legislation.

But consider the unintended consequences …

Other than the possibility that your device will not power up or that the file was corrupted, consider that handing you phone voluntarily to any law enforcement officer may constitute your permission to search the phone for other information, contacts, pictures, communications, links to other entities – and, should these links be suggestive of illegal behavior or activities, provide the probable cause for a wider search or even being detained for further investigation. There are also pending questions about the legality of law enforcement being able to remotely scan your telephone using non-contact devices during a traffic stop.

Stupid is as stupid does …

If the government had any modicum of good sense, they would simply require insurance companies to transmit insurance information in real time to your state department of motor vehicles where it could be combined with your other information and displayed for the officer during a license check.

Perhaps the single best reason I can provide for why the insurance company would not want to save millions of dollars in printing and administration costs is that the politicians are worried about having to officially take action should they encounter an illegal alien without vehicle license and registration information.

You would think that this “heads up” would also be beneficial to officers knowing that the person they are encountering does not have the insurance required by the state and may pose an increased threat to their safety.

The other benefit to any vehicle owner would be that you would not leave your address information AND keys with parking attendants or giving a carjacker your address. Remember: when parking, only provide your single “valet” key which does not unlock the trunk or the glove-compartment. (Although you could always access these with brute force.)

Bottom line …

You should only be required to display your drivers’ license which also acts as personal identification.

There should be no question about the authenticity of proffered government-issued paper documents printed on safety paper unless it is an obvious photoshopped forgery. Not true with documents displayed on a mobile device, which could be questions and serve as the basis for taking you into custody for investigation of the legality of the documents presented.  

There are security safeguards that are built-in to handing that officer your paper insurance card and/or vehicle registration. Be sure that wherever you store the certificates, be it glove-box, center console or overhead visor, that there is no contraband or other objects (such as weapons) which can provoke the officer to pull his weapon and proceed to turn a routine traffic stop into a “felony stop” and investigation.

Best advice: when stopped, turn off your vehicle, put the keys on the top of the dash, keep your hands high and in plain sight, ask the officer for permission to reach for anything before you do it, and generally do what the officer requests. Do not argue and cause any problems as there will be time later to file a complaint against an officer or fight the matter in court. Do not admit anything or answer any question in detail. Your job is to make sure this encounter is easy and painless, especially for the officer who is worried about returning to his family. If the encounter proceeds beyond fifteen minutes, ask the officer if you are being placed in custody or are you free to leave. Do not volunteer any information about anything as your words and actions can be used against you in a court of law – whether or not you have been told of your rights.

And, in the final analysis, be aware of the tradeoff between convenience and your safety and privacy.

-- steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS

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