California Governor Vetoes Bill Barring Gov't From Turning Off Mobile Phone Service

from the seems-like-it-should-already-be-illegal dept

You may recall how law enforcement in California tried to shut down a protest last year by turning off mobile phone service at a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station to prevent potential protestors (none of whom actually showed up) from communicating. This raised significant questions about whether or not such actions were even legal. Either way, a bill was introduced and passed in the state legislature that would have barred such a shut down in the future... but California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed the bill, because apparently allowing law enforcement to cut off communications to prevent free speech is perfectly reasonable in his book. I still think the original action probably violated existing law, but it's a shame that Governor Brown couldn't stand up for basic freedom of speech issues, especially when it comes to having law enforcement shut down cell service to prevent public assembly and protest.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 1st, 2012 @ 10:24pm

    I doubt that the ability to shut down cell phones would be nearly as effective as the government hopes. Based on the Arab Spring experience the effect is often anger, backlash, and even more intense acts of civil disobedience. People also learn to route around the blockage, and they get better at it the more the network is officially cut off.

     

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  2.  
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    bigpallooka (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:36am

    The real danger here is that the police could be putting peoples lives at risk. Some messages being sent may be "Hey come down there is a riot on" others may be "Hey don't come down there is a riot on". The supposition is that by denying everyone access to the service will aid the police but not disadvantage the public. I can think of numerous instances where this could cause more danger to the public. What about peaceful protests that are hijacked? How are organisers supposed to warn their members not to come because it is dangerous?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:44am

    Is there a law against something? Techdirt hates it.

    Wait, it's a law against THE GOVERNMENT doing something? BEST LAW EVER.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:53am

    Actually, it looks more like he realized it was just a meaningless distraction, an attempt to add red tape. It applies in an area which is not State jurisdiction to start with, rather federal. Making restrictive laws on the state level in this area is pretty meaningless.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Ophelia Millais (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:46am

    Re:

    You seem to think you've made some kind of point here. Are you trying to say it's hypocritical to oppose unjust laws when supporting just ones? Is that really how you feel—Techdirt (or anyone else) must either love all laws, or hat all laws, no picking and choosing? Really??

     

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  6.  
    icon
    Ophelia Millais (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re:

    hat→hate

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 2:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You hate hats?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 2:38am

    Re:

    Apparently there's no law outlawing anonymous morrons.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 2:45am

    Someone connecting the dots with live streaming ?

    Syrian dictatorship bans live video up-streaming Apps to prevent embarrassing video witness accounts

    Meanwhile proud United States of America innovates and moves one upstream in the censorship chain and cuts of the cell towers instead.

     

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  10.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 3:01am

    Re:

    but but but they might coordinate their protest and slow people down on their commute home!

    Rather that show up in riot gear, they could have set up an area for the protesters and explained that are within their rights to protest but if they break the law they are getting arrested.

    People would have protested, a couple people would have been arrested, and life would have moved on. Instead they shut down cell service, showed up in riot gear, and made the situation more volatile with the overly dramatic hype.

    Oh and those people who were made late on their commute totally couldn't bitch on twitter about it, oh the humanity!

     

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  11.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 3:03am

    Re: Re:

    hello pot.

     

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  12.  
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    aiming4thevoid (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 3:55am

    It's all part of the plan

    I guess the law interfered with his 'California for ever' master plan.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:04am

    like everything else, people are expected to spend their hard-earned cash buying stuff. in this case, you can buy a phone, you can send txts and make calls, message through face book etc as long as all communications can be monitored and then removed or the service(s) switched off at the behest of someone who doesn't agree with the communication. what's there to moan about?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Now all they have to do is outlaw pen, paper, talking and sign language. This is brilliant!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:09am

    Re: Someone connecting the dots with live streaming ?

    The US is a beacon, let there be light. What a country to serve as an example to the world that freedom is as freedom does. News flash; not a man jack of us is free.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    DS, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re:

    Because, all protesters are normal, sane, rational people?

    I wish this was the case as much as you do, but sadly, protests are a great way for people who just want to cause chaos to blend into a group.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    out with there tongues

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re:

    their

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, finally someone who sees the light ... those with dissenting opinions need to be locked up.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:42am

    I think I get it

    They want to prevent people from sending streaming video footage while they beat down the protestors and abuse their rights.

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:45am

    Re:

    Hammer, this is nail, nail, this is hammer. I can think of many other situations where extreme measures were taking without thinking of broad collateral effects.

    But really, in the end it's all part of the ongoing efforts to censor free speech.

     

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  22.  
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    RobM (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:48am

    "...Brown said that the bill could "divert attention" away from a true emergency by requiring that government agencies apply for a court order within six hours of a service shutdown. The democratic governor encouraged the bill's author, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, to bring amended version of the legislation forward next year."

    At least get the whole story.

     

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  23.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:18am

    Re: It's all part of the plan

    Whenever I see 'it's all part of the plan' the only thing I can think of Heath Ledger saying it with a deranged voice. Damn that was a good movie.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:32am

    I don't think that it's entirely a bad thing and depends on how it is used. For example, what if there's a prison riot and it's suspected that inmates are coordinating with contraband cell phones. It would be helpful to sever that communication and there ought to be a procedure to do so immediately.

     

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  25.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    right, let's do away -as we are- with the pesky, quaint ole piece of hemp with ink spots on it, and simply outlaw all rights to peaceably assembly, petition our gummint, or otherwise cast a disparaging word on Empire...

    ...we'd all be safer and not inconvenienced by -you know- yucky people who actually believe in their rights, and *gasp* want to exercise them too ! ! !
    the nerve ! ! !

    (another authoritarian outed ! ! !
    all in a day's work...)

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    Jamming comms is war stuff, here applied to own citizens.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    I don't think that it's entirely a bad thing and depends on how it is used. For example, what if there's a prison riot and it's suspected that inmates are coordinating with contraband cell phones. It would be helpful to sever that communication and there ought to be a procedure to do so immediately.

    Anyone can make up a bullshit scenario where the end result is "and therefore it should be okay to take away our rights."

    Sorry, but that's not how rights work. Regarding your scenario, the proper response is: don't let contraband cell phones get into the prison in the first place, not turn off cell phones which likely would have significant collateral damage.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:20am

    911

    Better not have a medical emergency, or a house fire or any other type of emergency while the government shuts down service. Unless you still have a land line that is.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    There is a quote from a very famous book written in the 20th century saying, in effect, "If in forming the constitution of your new government, you spent your efforts entirely on limiting the power of the government, you would not be doing so badly at all."

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:53am

    Re:

    There is no provision in the constitution to suspend the bill of rights "because TERRORISTS".

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    Bullshit scenario? Like drugs, contraband cellphones are a real problem in prison. I think it would be possible to craft a law or policy to allow flexibility in certain scenarios where service interruption is warranted.

     

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  32.  
    icon
    Jeff_Vader_runs_the_Deathstar? (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re:

    You say that now, but wait until you're trapped in a collapsed coal mine and your only hope of escape is shutting down all the cell towers so that the genius engineer with a flaky pacemaker can get close enough to use his secret scanner to pick up the radiation from the tritium in your watch...

    Who's gonna have pie on their face then?

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Usin such an example is just a distraction from the issue at hand which is the question; should it be legal for a government or non-government entity that has placed a repeater for the use of citizens/customers be able to turn off said if they want to without getting court permission?

    Furthermore, the real issue isn't the contraband cellphones as much as the corruption that allows them into the prison in the first place.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    Actually I thought it was already common practice to jam cells around prisons, at least here in Texas. (Not just during riots)
    Making this a routine law enforcement tactic in the 'free' world seems problematic to say the least

     

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  35.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re:

    they could have set up an area for the protesters


    You aren't advocating those Orwellian "free speech zones", are you?

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re:

    Regarding your scenario, the proper response is: Eliminate prisons.

    There Mike I fixed it for you.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    Regarding your scenario, the proper response is: Eliminate prisons.

    There Mike I fixed it for you.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    Your right to complain,what else.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re: 911

    True

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    There are thousands upon thousands of laws on the books in every state, not to mention on the federal level, and in each country, and province thereof, and......

    Look, you know your cherrypicking is stupid. Just stop.

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Billy, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    SO MUCH HAT HATE!

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    http://dailyviewblogs.blogspot.co.uk/ , check out a unique entertainment blog! :)

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    so limit cell shutdown/jamming to prisons not to public areas. what you want to do is limit everyone's freedom to deal with a very limited and specific scenario. better to deal directly with the scenario. attempting limit a person's freedom to peacefully express views by categorizing it the same way make this argument pure bs.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think limiting in such a fashion makes sense, however a blanket prohibition doesn't seem quite right.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    John Lenihan, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Almost certainly, the paranoid po-lice told fantastic stories of riot, destruction and insurrection in persuading the governor to veto the bill.

    Unfortunately, this is normal (not to say nuts) for them, and very few politicians can resist a bunch of gold-starred and shiny-badged cops telling such stories.

     

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  46.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh by no means.
    One of their "concerns" was the protestors maybe shoving someone onto the tracks in the chaos. I see nothing wrong with defining an area, in the actual place (this is key), so that protesters can be heard and regular people can carry on with their lives.
    It should never be an either or situation. Rather than treat them as an invading force to be put down, let logic dictate the situation. People have a right to protest, other people have the right to move on. Simple solution is to create a situation where everyone can coexist, and it doesn't require a tank, riot gear, pepper spray, etc.

     

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  47.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And when you watch many of the recent protests you can see who the aggressors are, the police.
    Waiting for people to come to the aid of someone injured by a weapon aimed at his head, then lob in a grenade to inflict the most damage to even more people.
    Send them in in plainclothes and incite more violence and chaos.
    Lie about the activities of the defenseless people you just pepper sprayed, and get no real penalty for violating your oath.

    The sad thing no one wants to accept is the police in many cases are the ones turning the dial to 11 in the protests. It helps them justify their budget, lets them paint protestors - who are doing something legal - as nefarious to the media and the citizens feel safer.

    I fear cops way more than protestors.

     

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  48.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    > Like drugs, contraband cellphones are a real
    > problem in prison.

    In California, that's mainly due to the wonderful prison guard union, which throws mountains of cash toward fighting any attempt to criminalize smuggling cell phones into prisons.

    In Cali, it's only an admininstrative violation. Which means a guard who's caught doing it can be punished on the job, but can't be arrested/jailed for doing it.

    The union fights hard to keep it that way. Why? Because the guards make beaucoup $$$ smuggling phones into prisons and they don't want to see the gravy train end.

     

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  49.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    > Usin such an example is just a distraction
    > from the issue at hand which is the question;
    > should it be legal for a government or non-
    > government entity that has placed a repeater
    > for the use of citizens/customers be able to
    > turn off said if they want to without getting
    > court permission?

    Especially since it's not necessary for the government to turn off the repeater to address the prison cell phone problem. If the FCC would just allow state prisons to use cell jammers, the prison issue would go away while allowing the repeaters to be left alone.

     

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

  50.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re:

    > Actually I thought it was already common
    > practice to jam cells around prisons,
    > at least here in Texas.

    If so, they're violating federal law by doing so. Jamming cell frequencies is a violation of federal law and even state governments can't do it without permission, which the FCC has so far declined to provide, even to prison officials.

     

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

  51.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:18pm

    Re:

    uh how about no we don't goto your spammy website your trying to SEO into being popular by posting pointless drivel on popular websites. If you had anything worthwhile we'd already be there and you'd not be a bottom feeding SEO ass.

     

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

  52.  
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    Bergman (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 3:31am

    If it's not illegal in California for someone to jam or shut down communications, then I wonder how the governor would like it if someone did it to him, or the police?

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    julianne456, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 11:54pm

    How to get residual income on phone bills Las Vegas

    Awesome blog over here! Thanks for sharing this very usefull information. I will visit your blog again into a couple off days to check if you have some new articles

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Hollis Sisto, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Unreal

    Both State and Federal Governments are getting too big for their pants, Governors in particular, in my opinion. IT is a right in this country to protest and the thought of a Governor blocking a bill that would prevent this action from being taken is unbelievable. He has lost his mind. No wonder California is in such deep ----, if you know what I mean.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    Hollis Sisto, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Unreal

    Both State and Federal Governments are getting too big for their pants, Governors in particular, in my opinion. IT is a right in this country to protest and the thought of a Governor blocking a bill that would prevent this action from being taken is unbelievable. He has lost his mind. No wonder California is in such deep ----, if you know what I mean.

     

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


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