BART Turns Off Mobile Phone Service At Station Because It Doesn't Want Protestors To Communicate

from the really-now? dept

With all the talk in the UK from politicians about shutting down mobile messaging services, it's worth pointing out that it apparently takes much less to shut down mobile service in the US at times. Jacob Appelbaum points out that BART -- the Bay Area Rapid Transit train system here in the California Bay Area -- apparently shut down all cell service at a station under the (false, as it turns out) belief that protesters were going to show up there:
As an added precaution, the agency shut off cellphone service on the station's platform. While Alkire said the tactic was an unusual measure, he said it was "a great tool to utilize for this specific purpose" given that the agency was expecting a potentially volatile situation.
That's really quite incredible, and I'm at a loss to see how that could be allowed. Because BART feared people protesting it literally shut down mobile phone service at its station? Since this particular station is underground, it has special equipment as regular cell towers don't reach the station. However, that shouldn't give BART officials the right to just turn off the service because they're unhappy that people might protest.

Filed Under: bart, free speech, mobile phones, protests, wireless
Companies: bart

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2011 @ 8:21pm

    Let's get something straight here. The protesters intended to have their protest ON THE TRAIN PLATFORMS. BART explicitly prohibits this kind of activity on the train platforms because it poses a huge risk to innocent people (third rail and high speed trains anyone?). Protesters are more than welcome to assemble in the station above ground, and they do so just about every day, peacefully.

    Every person that says the cell repeater shutdown was uncalled for clearly doesn't know shit about this situation. The last "peaceful" BART protest wasn't peaceful and plenty of crimes were committed. Cellphone service was used by criminal perpetrators to avoid the police, plain and simple.

    Don't be fooled. Protest organizers made it clear in days prior that they would use cellphones to avoid police and prosecution for crimes the non-peaceful protesters commit. The repeaters were shut down to eliminate this possibility, not to disrupt the congregation of protest.

    First amendment violation? Bullshit. BART is and was never under any obligation to provide cell service on their trains. It is a free service they provide.

    Have an emergency call to make? There were police everywhere one could have contacted.

    Have to post your "police hate-crime" video online? Exit the station, jackass.

    Despite all this, I applaud BART for the actions they took to prevent non-peaceful protesters from avoiding police, but I say a hearty "FUCK YOU" for the clandestine manner in which they did it.

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