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, 14 Aug 2011 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Having the right to assemble and protest doesn't mean . . .

    Yeah, free speech is one of those meaningless rights.

    Let's assume that I have a Stalin-esque power to allocate the people's resources at whim, without transaction costs. In this case, I have the choice between funding “courts and lawyers” or funding “research scientists and engineers”.

    Rather than funding a lawsuit, I'd rather take the same chunk of the people's valuable resources and pour them into a DARPA research contract:

    Man-portable cellular repeater for tactical use in underground tunnels.

    I'd say that both the lawsuit and the research have about the same odds of complete sucess. The lawsuit probably runs into rational-basis, and the research probably runs into nature. Potential payoff, well, on the one hand some judge in a black robe says the people have the power to use their cell phones on BART platforms. On the other hand, some scientist in a white laboratory smock says the people have the power to use their cell phones on BART platforms.

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