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.

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Comments on “California Governor Vetoes Bill Barring Gov't From Turning Off Mobile Phone Service”

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54 Comments
bigpallooka (profile) says:

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?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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!

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

RobM (profile) says:

“…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.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

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

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

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.

Jeff_Vader_runs_the_Deathstar? (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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.

btr1701 (profile) says:

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.

btr1701 (profile) says:

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.

Hollis Sisto (user link) says:

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.

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