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
    Pro Se Guy, 13 Aug 2011 @ 1:53pm

    There are a number of issues here. How much info did BART have about the protests and the people they thought might get involved? How many people were going to show up? At what level was this decision made and did they consult with BART attorneys? Did they consult with the phone companies? How did they address the possibility for 911 emergencies? What alternatives were there? Is there an official policy on potentially-dangerous situations in general, and protected protests specifically? Have there been other protests they've allowed? What interest did BART have in suppressing this particular protest? What are the broader policy issues involved in allowing or forbidding this practice?

    All these issues, and many more, come into play in deciding whether or not BART acted constitutionally. While it is presumed that employees of the government intend to act within the limits of their authority, the proper place to decide whether or not they've STAYED within the limits of their authority is a court.

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