by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 16th 2011 8:31am
Late last week, after it came out that BART had decided to shut down mobile phone service in one station because of the threat of a protest (which never actually materialized) many people started questioning the legality of the move. Now comes the word that the FCC is investigating. It will be interesting to see what they have to say. I'm not sure if it actually did violate any specific FCC rules, though I would imagine that the FCC might worry about this kind of thing becoming more common. It seems to me that the First Amendment argument (which I would believe is outside the FCC's purview) is much stronger. Here, an entity acting on behalf of the government shut down a form of communication specifically directed at a form of protest speech in an attempt to block that speech. You can get away with things if they're "content neutral," but in a case where BART officials have flat out admitted that they were targeting speech they didn't like, it seems like there's a strong First Amendment claim, though I'm not sure who would actually bring such a lawsuit.
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