FOIA Info Reveals That BART Shut Down Cell Service With One Email To Telco Partner

from the it's-that-easy dept

Following the astounding and likely illegal decision by BART to shut down mobile phone service in stations in an attempt to block protesters from being able to communicate, Christopher Soghoian and Jacob Appelbaum filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the internal communications concerning this decision. Those communications have now been released and can be seen here (pdf) or embedded below.

The interesting stuff is closer to the end. Basically, someone from BART, Dirk Peters, sent a single email to ForzaTelecom, who must be BART's partner in managing the cell service, saying that they needed it shut off:
Gentlemen,
The BART Police require the M-Line wireless from the Trans Bay Tube Portal to the Balboa Park Station, to be shut down today between 4pm & 8.
Steve , please help to notify all carriers.
The "Steve" in question appears to be Steve Dutto from Forza, who replied and sent an email to various telcos (including Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and MetroPCS), saying
I have spoken to or left a voicemail for most of you. We have been told that we must shut down the DAS system from the Oakland portal to the Balboa St. Station from 4-8 pm. We do not believe that any of the carriers need to do anything, the nodes will be turned down from the Civic Center Headend and then turned back up when given the ok from the BART police.
The emails also note that beyond cell service, BART also shut down its WiFi service -- also via a single email from a BART representative to the WiFi partner, WiFi Rail, who noted that they were "happy to help in any way." Nice of them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Vic, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    See how easy it is to find the "kill switch"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    This just proves that we made a mistake in trusting so much of our lifes to others it is time to build our own communication systems limited or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    I laugh

    That is why I have a satellite phone, but it is so expensive I can’t really make a call on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re:

    You know that get's me thinking. The government basically already has a de facto kill switch. The AT&T + NSA debacle shows that all the government has to do is call the major network companys, ask them nicely to shut down the Internet for national security reasons (or be investigated, taxed, and regulated into oblivion), all with the promise of ex post facto legal immunity from congress if it's ever discovered. It sounds tin-foil-hat crazy, but you know it could happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    This just shows why we should all be investing more time in establishing our own lines of communication that route around these damages. I wonder if there's a lovely tax loophole to make that as popular as SUVs?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    DMNTD, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    Tow the line..

    I don't expect best interest when companies have a say in anything..period. SO, yes think of your future and imagine it as a way to make yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:59pm

    People still squawking about being mildly inconvenienced while trying to deter assholes from being assholes to thousands of people.

    I was there that day, I didn't even notice the service was shut down. I DID notice that fucktards added an extra hour to my commute home.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Re:

    Did you also notice your constitutional rights being whittled away?

    No, you're right, the protesters are the assholes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Pitabred (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Re:

    So... because it didn't directly affect you it's not a big deal?

    I'm gonna have to Godwin this thread and reference Martin Niemöller.

    You should care because what they did was absolutely wrong. Not because it affected you directly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Holly, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    This is at a critical point now- taking away something that has already been paid for in most cases. This is theft in it's most basic form. I mean the uni-form.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    "Never ask for whom the bell tolls... it tolls for thee"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Holly, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    This BART mess is theft. I would not pay anything after that,

    This is theft in it's pure form..I mean the uni-form. I try to show respect but when people take advantage of their position, and theft is considered a favor- oh no. That doesn't fly by me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    bagelche (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Dirk Peters? That's a pr0n name for sure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Holly, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:32pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Yeah it tolls since birth. Why are all the PDF files blank? Did someone remove them.?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Re:

    I'm sure all the other passengers on Rosa's bus were pretty pissed by the delay she caused as well. Thank goodness that little fiasco didn't lead to other sorts of social upheaval or anything. The inconvenience and personal discomfort for everyone would have been just awful!

    Or in other words: I'm so sorry free speech is such a burden for you. Perhaps you should try living without it for a week or two.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Bill, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Re: I laugh

    The problem with satellites are that they fall out of orbit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Viln (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    In defense of the carriers, they were not told why the request was being made to shut down the DAS. It could have been technical in nature. In my mind, all responsibility and culpability goes back to BART. If they were appropriately punished for this abuse of power, providers would not need to shoulder the burden of determining what is or is not an appropriate request. Saying that providers should be less responsible for requests for contracted service changes is much different than providers being asked to furnish personal details without legal authority and due process.. which they should be burdened with refusing. A better comparison would be a power utility being asked by the FBI to shut down power to a city block.... if it turns out it wasn't terrorists or a hostage situation but rather an anti-FBI conspiracy theorist convention, the FBI director and associated agents should be in jail, not the power company CEO and technicians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    I was there that day, I didn't even notice the service was shut down. I DID notice that fucktards added an extra hour to my commute home.

    Interesting... considering no actual protests happened that day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re:

    In all fairness, I assume they were talking about the earlier protest which gave BART the idea of heading off the second protest by shutting cell service. I'm assuming this because I vaguely remember most people saying the protests delayed their commute for about an hour.

    The comment is still short-sighted for measuring inalienable rights against an hour's convenience. I could be wrong, though. It might be dumb for two reasons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Brett, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 5:24pm

    It was -NOT- an FOIA request

    Read the damn letter. It was not an FOIA request. It was a California Public Records Act, aka Sunshine, request.
    Anyone trying to take a similar path in the future will get no where with an FOIA request.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 5:34pm

    Re:

    Yes if only those Protesters actually stood for something instead of doing it for shits and giggles. If only there was some kind of, UNDERLYING MESSAGE if you will in their actions that they were trying to communicate to you in a nonviolent way instead of blocking off the system for no better reason than protesters are all evil and need to be detained in camps.

    Oh well, no such reason exists I'm afraid. I am so terribly sorry for your delay in commute time because of these wicked people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Holly, Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 10:08pm

    Re: Re:And then they came. Who is they?

    Are we them?
    "oh no," said Jim.
    Are we us?
    "L00k under the bus." said Jim.
    Kick.
    We are all us and them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: I laugh

    I don't think satellite phones work underground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    brilliant post. any attempt to disarm your comparison will likely be the dumbest thing ive read in ages. thanks for stating the obvious to those that cannot make the connection.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Daddy Warbucks, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Duh, Dems R Big Govt

    Dems used to fight The Man! Now they are The Man!

    Dems want big Govt to rule your life, that's the Progress agenda. The Nanny State is their way to "Protect You from Yourself," and crush your Constitutional Rights to grow their influence.

    California is rank with Govt Unions run amuck. Socialization of Risk is their motto and your Individual Rights listed in the Constitution are "in their way."

    My favorite is their need to dictate what can you ingest because Big Govt is going to be paying your future Medicare bill.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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