A Legal Analysis For Why BART's Mobile Phone Shutdown Was Illegal

from the free-speech-isn't-free dept

There's been a lot of coverage over BART's bizarre decision to shut down mobile phone service in one of its stations to hinder some potential protestors. With the FCC investigating, we've heard a number of folks say that there's no First Amendment violation here because there's "no right to mobile phone service." And while it's true that there's no right to mobile phone service, the law is pretty clear that there is a right to not have the government try to stifle a particular form of speech by shutting down infrastructure, solely targeted at that form of speech.

That is, the key issue isn't whether BART needed to keep its mobile phone service up all the time. If it goes down for maintenance, that's fine. But it can't turn it off if the decision is to try to block a particular type of speech. And that's exactly what BART clearly admitted to doing. Of course, it's not just the First Amendment at issue. There's also telecom law, and it appears BART violated that too.

Telecom lawyer/consumer rights advocate Harold Feld has a long and detailed explanation for why the shut down both violates telecom law and is also just a bad idea in general. It's pretty detailed, pointing out the specific citations in telecom law that were violated and a series of relevant caselaw decisions. There's a lot in there, but here's a key citation that reads like it could apply almost directly to the BART situation:

In Pike v. Southern Bell Tel. &Telegraph Co., 81 So.2d 254 (Ala. 1955), Mr. Connor, in his capacity as Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of Birmingham, ordered Southern Bell to remove the telephone of one Louis Pike, described by Mr. Connor as “a negro” of “questionable character” alleged by Mr. Connor to be a “well-known lottery operator in the city” and to be using his phone for unspecified “illegal purposes.” Reviewing cases from other jurisdictions (including People v. Brophy), the Alabama Supreme Court found that the right of every citizen to use a phone was guaranteed by federal law and could not be deprived without due process.  As the Court observed:

The present tendency and drift towards the Police State gives all free Americans pause.  The unconstitutional and extra-judicial enlargement of coercive governmental power is a frightening and cancerous growth on our body politic.  Once we assumed axiomatic that a citizen was presumed innocent until proved guilty.  The tendency of governments to shift the burden of proof to citizens to prove their innocence is indefensible and intolerable.

We are not able to glean from the bare conclusions set up in the letter of the Commissioner, whether it is claimed that the “illegal” use of the telephone was by the appellant, her husband, or a total stranger.  From aught that was alleged in the plea, except for the conclusion of the Commissioner, no “illegal” use of any type was made of this telephone by any one.

The notice alleged to have been received by the Telephone Company was couched in the terms of a direct order from the Commissioner of Public Safety.  What is the source of Mr. Connor’s authority to issue such an order?  We know of none.  And we hold that none exists.

If we took a contrary view, it would naturally flow and follow that the telephone company would be justified in acting on the notice of any over-zealous law enforcement official who, without evidence, and on mere suspicion, is impressed with the bad character or occupation of a particular telephone subscriber. The letter from Commissioner Connor set up in the plea is no defense.  It is the Telephone Company’s burden to show that the use being made of the telephone did, in fact, justify its removal.

These depredations of a subscriber’s legal right to telephone service constitute a denial of due process guaranteed by the Constitution of 1901, art. 1, § 6.  The gratuitous and arbitrary action of a police official is no justification for an abridgment of this right.  To hold that the Telephone Company is justified in discontinuing service by “order” of a police official would require judicial recognition of a police power which does not exist.  The bald assertion of an executive officer, be he the Attorney General of the United States or a constable of some remote beat, cannot be accepted as a substitute for proof in the judicial process.  No presumption arises as to the sufficiency of evidence based on a law enforcement officer’s conclusions.

Similarly, the BART's possession of “intelligence” that individuals may use their mobile phones to coordinate illegal activity does not confer “police power that does not exist.” BART must still go to the California agency with actual jurisdiction, the CPUC, and obtain a legal order authorizing the shut down of cellular service.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Doesn't this ruling apply DIRECTLY to this proposed 3-strikes crap?

     

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  2.  
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    A Guy (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Re:

    It's actually 6 strikes here in the US, but it would appear so. If you use Skype or another VOIP provider they might not have a right to deny you that service.

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Re:

    But how would say, the EFF bring this up in a lawsuit? Doesn't the Patriot Act trump this ruling?

     

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  4.  
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    Tech42 (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    With the usual result....

    "a denial of due process guaranteed by the Constitution" carries no penalty when conducted by a government official.

     

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  5.  
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    A Guy (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re:

    The Patriot Act doesn't apply. The 6 strikes plan is a private agreement between content producers and ISPs. It has a myriad of probably illegal aspects especially related to antitrust. This is just one more violation to add to the pile.

    One way to bring a suit would be to find someone who has been disconnected and used a VOIP service as their phone line. This seems like good caselaw to punish ISPs for selling out their customers.

     

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  6.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    No credit for submission?

    Maybe I submitted this but you had already seen it, I know it wasn't even an hour before it went up.

     

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  7.  
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    Rekrul, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    I predict that they will cite some provision of the Patriot act or some other bad, obscure law and get a pass. Either that or the Obama administration will make an exception and claim that they did nothing wrong.

     

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  8.  
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    A Guy (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    Re:

    It might happen, but Constitutional case law > Patriot Act in a sane legal environment.

     

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  9.  
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    Hugh Mann (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Clearly distinguishable

    The cited case appears to be about a prohibition against a particular person being able to SUBSCRIBE to telephone service AT ALL. And, based on the brief excerpt, seems to have come out correctly - it's inappropriate to try to ban someone from being to own a phone altogether.

    However, that's not what happened in the BART situation Nobody in the BART situation deprived anybody of the right to own a phone or subscribe to a cell phone service. Nobody's phones were confiscated, nor were their subscriptions cancelled. BART disabled repeaters that had been placed in its stations as a convenience for riders.

    It may very well be the case that BART was in the wrong (though, personally, I don't think so), but this case does not appear to support that.

    HM

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re: No credit for submission?

    Maybe I submitted this but you had already seen it, I know it wasn't even an hour before it went up.


    Hey. I've been at conferences all day today. All the posts so far were done last night so I could conference... so yeah, I saw this yesterday...

     

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  11.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re:

    True, but in our environment our government grants retroactive immunity for violating the constitution. There's nothing sane about it.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:56pm

    Important point overlooked: "the Telephone Company"

    Kids don't remember how literal that was in 1955: there was "the Telephone Company", ONE nationwide, AT&T, and only a few minor locals. AT&T was a gov't chartered monopoly, and bound by a regulatory agency. Therefore, being authorized by The Public, it couldn't without cause refuse service to one of its MASTERS, The Public. -- That's all changed. BART may or may not be quasi-gov't, but it's almost certainly not bound -- in practice -- by any pesky regulatory agency over it. So I'd bet the whole legal reasoning falls down: corporations have slipped their bonds.

    Just sayin'. -- Of course I agree with you in principle, but it ain't necessarily so in actuality.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    The cited case is Alabama supreme court, so it is simply not binding either federally or in california.

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Clearly distinguishable

    Yeah, I didn't read the article either.

     

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  15.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: No credit for submission?

    NP Mike, it's all good for us freetards aka your minions!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    Isn't there some law that prohibits the blocking of e911 services? Wouldn't BART have violated this?

     

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  17.  
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    DCL, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    I think that is the same reason why movie theaters can't block cell phone traffic.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 4:41pm

    Nice, but incorrect title.

    It isn't illegal. It can be argued that it *MIGHT* be illegal, but that is for a court of law.

    Mike, for a guy who pushes the 4th amendment like mad, you seem more than willing to find people guilty without trial very quickly!

     

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  19.  
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    JMT (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    "The present tendency and drift towards the Police State gives all free Americans pause. The unconstitutional and extra-judicial enlargement of coercive governmental power is a frightening and cancerous growth on our body politic. Once we assumed axiomatic that a citizen was presumed innocent until proved guilty. The tendency of governments to shift the burden of proof to citizens to prove their innocence is indefensible and intolerable."

    It would seem this paragraph applies equally today.

     

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  20.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Re:

    No, the title is quite correct. It's a legal analysis as to why the shutdown was illegal. Care to supply us with a legal analysis as to why it is not?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re:

    No need. It isn't illegal, it is illegal in the writers opinion. The statements alone convict nobody. It's an opinion, not a fact.

     

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  22.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No need. It isn't illegal, it is illegal in the writers opinion.

    Says the anonymous coward who doesn't even know the difference between the Fourth Amendment (against search and seizure) and the First Amendment (freedom of speech and assembly.)

    Sorry dude...I'll take the opinions of a Telecom/Consumer Rights lawyer over your opinion any day.

     

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  23.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    As soon as I started reading, I thought this would definitely be one to cite against any extra-judicial internet disconnection cases.

    But I don't think you even need to be using a VOIP service for it to apply. The internet is a communication service, just like the telephone, and voice is just one type of data that travels over it.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dude, you don't get it. It isn't ME VERSUS HIM. It's that his is an OPINION, not a fact.

    As always Mike is very fast to use fact titles when the story is really a legal opinion, nothing more.

    As for 4th amendment, the point is due process. Seems that the title declares them guilty without a trial. Perhaps you could like to try to correct me on that too?

     

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  25.  
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    Michael, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re:

    If someone could only manage to get the patriot act into a court challenge, it would crumble anyways.

     

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  26.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you really wanted to make it hurt for them, you would point out that they are subsidized with public funds and they are now using those funds to deny access with an agreement that cuts people off on mere accusations.

    I think a Judge having to consider if they need to pay back all of the subsidies would make them quickly reconsider the position.

    And one could have fun with cities revoking their agreements to run poles and wire. They are no longer working as a utility, they want to be in the enforcement business for dubious claims. Why give them any breaks at all on anything.

     

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  27.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dude, you don't get it. It isn't ME VERSUS HIM. It's that his is an OPINION, not a fact.

    Yes, TAM, you are right. However, luckily for all of us, we know your opinion is based on half-truths, made-up facts, and misunderstanding of the law. The lawyer has quite a bit more experience and learning, and thus I think it is safe to say that most of us value his opinion over yours.

    As for 4th amendment, the point is due process. Seems that the title declares them guilty without a trial. Perhaps you could like to try to correct me on that too?

    Maybe this will help since you appear to be a moron in a hurry (The Amendments that Keep the Government from Taking Away Your Natural Born Rights):

    1st Amendment: Right to religion, speech, press, assemble, and petition the government.

    The government may not stop me from worshiping who I want, saying what I want, printing what I want, going to a public place with a bunch of my friends, and asking the government to fix itself. Sure, if I hurt someone else in the process, I am responsible, but otherwise the government cannot stop me.

    2nd Amendment: Right to Bare Arms.

    Government cannot take away my ability to fight for my first amendment rights. Some within government argue that the right only is extended to government militias, but that hasn't turned out well in challenges to the supreme court.

    3rd Amendment: Prohibits Quartering of Soldiers out of War Time.

    Because, if they can just put a soldier in your house, they can take away your 1st and 2nd amendment rights too.

    4th Amendment: Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants.

    Has nothing to do with due process, except maybe that it defines what the process is for a warrant. A police officer can search or seize evidence in plain sight, or under exigent circumstances (which can be abused) but they cannot go on fishing expeditions through your property looking for evidence unless they follow the rules.

    5th Amendment: Protects the right of due process, prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.

    Ah, Due process...here it is. Not the fourth one, but the fifth one (and is extended in the 6th, 8th and 14th ones.)

    6th Amendment: Protects right to fair and speedy trial by jury of peers, right to notification of accusations, confront the accuser, and obtain witnesses and council.

    The anti-anti-Kevin Mitnick amendment...the government cannot hold you in jail indefinitely without trial, and the government needs to tell you what they think you did, and allow you to get a lawyer and build your defense.

    8th Amendment: Prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, as well as excessive fines and bail.

    What copyright maximalists would love to see disappear in the Thomas case. The punishment needs to fit the crime, and needs to be usual and not extreme.

    14th Amendment: Extends amendments to all persons in the borders of the United States, both citizens and those visiting from foreign countries. Contains Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause.

    So that guy who is here illegally in the US has equal protection under the law to the amendments as those who are here legally or who are citizens. And more due process for all.

     

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  28.  
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    TriZz (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Clearly distinguishable

    The case was about Bell denying service to a user based on the presumption that he was guilty of using the phone for illicit activity. Bell, being the owner of those lines...

    In the BART case, we have BART - the owner of the repeaters - denying service to it's users based on the presumption that they were going to use their phones for illicit activity.

    I really don't see how you can NOT see that.

     

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  29.  
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    A Guy (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Read up on the FCC, broadband, communication service, and information service. It's not that simple unfortunately.

     

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  30.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:45pm

    Re:

    The cited case is Alabama supreme court, so it is simply not binding either federally or in california.

    Correct, but People v Brophy was tried in California.

    The California Court of Appeals further found that Earl Warren, then the California Attorney General, could not order the phone company to discontinue service to a person the Attorney General suspected of running a gambling operation by use of the telephone. - From the referenced article.

    Also, there is Ca PC 591.5...which is a misdemeanor charge, "A person who unlawfully and maliciously removes, injures,
    destroys, damages, or obstructs the use of any wireless communication device with the intent to prevent the use of the device to summon assistance or notify law enforcement or any public safety agency of a crime is guilty of a misdemeanor."

     

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  31.  
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    Jonathan Oberg  (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 8:05pm

    How would Pike v. read on ICE domain-name seizures?

    Mentally executing A find-replace of telecom for web site and 50's racism for 21st century property-ism and this ruling feels contemporary and correct.

     

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  32.  
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    Rob, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 8:27pm

    Bill of Rights?

    It seems that Bart offers cell phone service as part of a benefit of using their system similar to how one might use WiFi at Starbucks. I can't see how anyone who comes into Starbucks and uses their WiFi for extended periods of time without purchasing a double mocha latte with a swirl of whip cream, could be upset if Starbucks withheld WiFi from them. Worse yet, if someone came into Starbucks and used their WiFi to organize a destructive mob against Starbucks; a mob who later came in to break windows, chairs, and showcases. What's the problem here?

    I see unkempt white kids (I was on the periphery of one demonstration) expressing their anger at "the Man", the weather, the economic situation, and now at Bart for withholding their precious cell phone service; which by the way still exists for them using their regular carriers above ground, where the mobs usually are when not destroying Bart property (which we taxpayers and riders pay for). You really want to piss off the little brats - ban them from Bart stations.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh yoy, you went to all that to point out that I used an amendment that only would be part of the deal, and yet you completely avoided addressing the real issue:

    It's a freaking opinion, not a fact, and if the pro-copyright people did the same thing in an article, Mike would be all over them like a pig on slop.

    So, would you like to address the actual issue, or are you going to make some comment about my grammar or some other irrelevant part of the discussion?

     

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  34.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's a freaking opinion, not a fact, and if the pro-copyright people did the same thing in an article, Mike would be all over them like a pig on slop.

    Nobody, except for you, has said that it was fact.

    The title was "A Legal Analysis For Why BART's Mobile Phone Shutdown Was Illegal"

    So, from an English standpoint, the sentence says: A Legal Analysis (as in an opinion based on a legal interpretation) For (in otherwords, this is an argument for the following,) Why BART's Mobile Phone Shutdown Was Illegal (the premise of the argument.) I realize you can't comprehend English...it is one of your many foibles.

    Show me were Mike said that it was fact...or that I said it was fact, or anyone else. If you even read the article, I know, too many words confuse and frighten you, but the original author doesn't even say it is fact. They are stating their opinion, and then using facts to back it up...something you have never done so I can understand why you have such a big problem with it.

     

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  35.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Bill of Rights?

    It seems that Bart offers cell phone service as part of a benefit of using their system similar to how one might use WiFi at Starbucks.

    It does seem like BART thinks that they are doing that as a service to their patrons. However, I wonder whether the legal system will agree. However, since cell phones are specifically covered by the law, and interrupting them is specifically prohibited by federal and state law, the courts might not see them as wifi.

    I don't understand why BART didn't just ban them from the stations. With the exception of the 1st amendment protections of lawful assembly on public property...if BART is not public property (I believe it is,) they would be well within their rights to issue a trespassing order and send the protesters on their way. I was not present so I don't know if any damage occurred, and I haven't read any reports that the mob itself was unruly, except that some arrests were made (but arrests can be made for many reasons even during a peaceable demonstration.)

    And it doesn't matter if it is a bunch of unkempt white kids, black men in expensive suits, or anyone else...the first amendment allows for peaceable demonstrations.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 9:25pm

    Re:

    Now we can add "the English language" to the ever-growing list of things TAM does not comprehend or understand.

     

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  37.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: No credit for submission?

    I always wanted to be a minion.

     

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  38.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hmm. But since this is an opinion piece, and not a court of law, the expression of his opinion -- even if it is stated as an assertion -- does not deprive anybody of due process.

    Please explain that to the voices in your head. They're getting loud enough for the rest of us to hear.

     

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  39.  
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    Hugh Mann (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Clearly distinguishable

    The Bell case was about a particular person who had been individually targeted for this treatment - essentally an order to not do business with him because of his putative connection to "illicit" activities. Further it appears Bell was indefinitely denying phone servie to the man.

    In the BART situation, BART merely said, "OK, we're not providing cell phone repeater service at all today." Nobody was singled out. BART didn't selectively deny use of their cell phone repeaters to the people they didn't like, but allow people they did like to continue to use them. They pulled the plug altogether. And, unlike in the Bell case, it appears BART pulled that plug only long enough to get past the potentially dangerous situation they were worried about.

    Bell was in the business of providing phone service, and no other sevice provider were available. Here, BART is not a cell phone servce provider. Nobody subscribes to the BART Mobile Phone Services.

    It might be more applicable if BART had banned someone from ever riding its trains, because the person was believed to ride the trains to and from "illicit" activities.

    HM

     

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  40.  
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    mike allen (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 1:46am

    Re: Re: Bill of Rights?

    As I understand from the original techdirt article shut down mobile phone service the reason was a protest was to take place at the station. My main concern is you appear to have no right to protest then, I thought that right was in the U.S constitution.

     

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  41.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 2:42am

    Re: Re:

    No, different.

    The movie theaters were considering "jamming", which is broadcasting powerful radio noise on the same frequencies that cellular phones use, obscuring the signal and thus rendering them useless.

    Jamming is illegal because those frequencies are auctioned off, then licensed for the exclusive use of the spectrum rights owner, say AT&T or Verizon. A theater owner who jams cellular phones is broadcasting on Verizon's spectrum, and that is a violation of a law.

    In contrast, BART just turned off their repeaters, which they normally operate in cooperation with the spectrum rights owners.

    BART passengers use BART's repeaters because the trains travel underground where normal cellular towers don't reach. BART installs either a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) or leaky coax antennas to relay the cellular carriers signals through the tunnels. They own and operate this sub-network. The movie theater is served by regular cellular towers from nearby outside.

     

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  42.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 5:34am

    Due Process Slipping Away

    The Bart decision to shut down mobile phone service is yet another incremental example of how government and the private sector increasingly believe that they can capriciously and unilaterally implement whatever action they deem appropriate in the name of (fill in the blank). Due process is becoming "old school".

     

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  43.  
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    Robert A. Rosenberg, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    Re: Clearly distinguishable

    Reread the description again. The case was about existent telephone service being disconnected NOT about a refusal to provide service to someone who did not yet have it. Thus the turning off of service is the issue at hand. The cell companies did not turn off the cell service - BART did. This is the same as cutting the phone wire leading to your land line. If you try to claim that BART owned the cell repeaters, it is the same as someone cutting the riser wires that lead from the demarcation point (patch panel) to the user's connect to the riser (that wiring is owned by building and the user only owns the internal wiring to the riser connection).

     

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    Thomas (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 6:12am

    Government officials..

    seldom worry about whether their actions are legal or not. The federal government is the worst.

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Bill of Rights?

    As I understand from the original techdirt article shut down mobile phone service the reason was a protest was to take place at the station.

    Actually, the original protest was because of an individual who was shot and killed by BART police. BART shut down the cell phone service in order to stop that protest, which sparked another protest.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Gee, aren't you a smarmy one? No voices in my head. Just a sense that Mike is once again playing loose with "facts". No doubt this will be a "we have already shown it was illegal" in some other post in the future, turning opinion to fact once again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Josh King (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 6:42am

    Not Unconstitutional

    While it's sad that BART did this, it's also likely not illegal. Government agencies can impose reasonable restrictions on expressive activities on their property as long as the restrictions are content-neutral (as this was; it shut down ALL cell phone conversations). That's why you can't protest in a courtroom, hang leaflets in the halls of the IRS offices downtown, etc.

    And as for the CPUC, BART isn't under their jurisdiction. First, BART likely wouldn't be considered a cellular provider, even if they have control over these facilities. And second, the CPUC has only the lightest regulatory authority over cellular providers. It can only regulate the terms and conditions of service (and there only slightly) unlike the full tariffed rate regulation it has over landline providers.

     

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  48.  
    icon
    Hugh Mann (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Clearly distinguishable

    In Bell, a particular man was singled out to have his specific service terminated, with no ability to re-establish it. He was essentially banned from having his own telephone service. He was not merely one in a crowd who were impacted temporarily by a service outtage.

    In the BART situation, nobody was singled out. Nobody's cell phone subscription was cancelled. Nobody was put on a blacklist preventing them from establishing cell phone service.

    The facts of the Bell case just make it inapplicable to what happenedin the BART situation.

    As for your landline example, it is easily distinguished from the BART situation as well. If the building owner cut his own riser wires, he would arguably be in breach of his lease to you, since you rented the apartment with phone wiring. In any case, cutting the wires is a physical act that seems to imply an intent to permanently deprive the target person of his landline phone service. This is not the case with BART. Nobody's "wires" extended to the train platform until BART added cell phone repeaters as a convenience to its customers. BART merely decided to not provide that convenience for a short time. Anybody who still wanted to use their cell phone could go back to a point where the cell phone signal could reach them naturally, which was exactly what had to happen in the time before BART added the repeaters in the first place.

    So, the Bell case might be used as a precedent for the general concept that phone service is considered important, but it is easily distinguishable from the facts of the BART situation, and would therefore not be direct support for the proposition that BART's actions were illegal.

    HM


    HM

     

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  49.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "No need. It isn't illegal, it is illegal in the writers opinion. The statements alone convict nobody. It's an opinion, not a fact."

    And you call this a Fact Blog, Mike? Seems to me like an Opinion Blog! Shame on you, The Masnick.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Bill of Rights?

    StarBuck's is not financed by public funds, from local cities, counties, the state of california and the federal government.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    dave c, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Response to: Rekrul on Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    When did Obama become mayor of SF? /dumb

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Captain Romato, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Anything to shut those Loud black women on the train up!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Matt, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

    BART is Unsafe

    BART is unsafe because they no longer have reliable access to emergency services.

     

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  54.  
    icon
    Xan (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 11:00pm

    Welcome to the valley of the real

    With no ability to speak what good is freedom of speech.

    Or as was once wisely said:

    "Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?" - Agent Smith

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually it's completely legal to block cell phone traffic. What's illegal is to jam it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 11:38pm

    Want to use your phone? WALK OUTSIDE!

     

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  57.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Clearly distinguishable

    I agree, I don't particularly like BART's action, but this case really doesn't seem to apply.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Rob, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Phone service

    Reading the law carefully, one can surmise that it is illegal to obstruct wireless communication "....TO PREVENT THE USE OF IT to summon assistance from law enforcement.."

    I doubt very much that the intentions of the protestors was to summon the police..eh? And I doubt that Bart's intention was to prevent anyone from summoning the police either.

    Those kids destroy our property and you are defending their right to do so. I find this abhorrent! If you defend their right to peaceably gather, fine, but to organize and endanger the public is another thing, and calls for stricter actions. Don't you think?

    Also, cell phone service is offered as a convenience and IN ADDITION to one's normal cell phone service, not as a stand-alone monopoly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Rob, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Phone service

    Reading the law carefully, one can surmise that it is illegal to obstruct wireless communication "....TO PREVENT THE USE OF IT to summon assistance from law enforcement.."

    I doubt very much that the intentions of the protestors was to summon the police..eh? And I doubt that Bart's intention was to prevent anyone from summoning the police either.

    Those kids destroy our property and you are defending their right to do so. I find this abhorrent! If you defend their right to peaceably gather, fine, but to organize and endanger the public is another thing, and calls for stricter actions. Don't you think?

    Also, cell phone service is offered as a convenience and IN ADDITION to one's normal cell phone service, not as a stand-alone monopoly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Rob, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Communications law

    Read the law above. The intention to disrupt service to prevent calling for the law is what is important in that sentence. You have to INTEND to keep people from summoning help; and I don't mean the kind of help the protestors were calling in. Looters and vandals are pretty low on the evolutionary scale of civilized society.

    Peaceful protest is quite another thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Aug 29th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Phone service

    Those kids destroy our property and you are defending their right to do so.

    I must have missed that part, where did he do that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    mary, Jul 23rd, 2012 @ 4:43am

    cellphone repair

    Well I guess you better visit this site http://cellphonerepairsanjose.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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