Skip to comments.To defuse 'flash' protest, BART cuts riders' cell service. Is that legal?
Posted on 08/12/2011 6:21:11 PM PDT by tje
The decision by Bay Area Rapid Transit officials to cut off cellphone service Thursday evening to forestall a planned protest raises a fundamental question: Do Americans have a basic right to digital free speech or to digitally organized assembly?
Because July protests against BART police shootings had turned violent, BART officials took the unusual step to protect public safety, they said. The tactic may have worked: No protests took place Thursday night at BART stations.
Temporarily shutting down cell service and beefing up police patrols were "great tool[s] to utilize for this specific purpose," BART police Lt. Andy Alkire told Bay City News Friday. The protests, planned for sometime between 4 and 8 p.m. in transit stations, would likely have disrupted service for many of the 341,000 daily BART passengers.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
How dare they stop a riot!
They should be sued.
Too bad that some segments of the population have been abusing their access to electronic messaging to create mischief and destruction.
What if the powers that be decided to selectively terminate service depending on caller ID?
I’ve been wondering how that can be done.. All in all not a good thing..
I’ve been wondering how that can be done.. All in all not a good thing..
Typical Government service. Give the people free cell phones then cut them off...
Cell service is a constitutional right?
Several years ago a court case came up proclaiming that phone service was a right, final result ... you can turn off phone service (for none payment) with the exception that 911 access must be maintained. This was for residential phone service; don’t know how this will affect mobile service.
If you have a cell phone 911 should work whether or not you have service.
BART action not gonna fly.
Since cutting cell phone service stops rioters, then maybe we should rid the country of guns to stop gun violence.
The cell phones aren’t the problem.
Cell service is a constitutional right?
125 years ago could the government come into your house and smash your printing press? 50 years ago could the government come into your house and remove your telephone?
This will not end well for the freedom of speach.
I’m fine with that, as long as you can get guns out of the hands of criminals first.
No it is not legal per the FCC. To jam cell phones, you have to transmit 'white noise' on the frequencies used by the cell phones. Cell phone companies purchase the licenses for cell phones to operate, therefore if you jam the phones the cell phone companies can sue. Plus there is the unintended consequence of jamming phones that are trying to dial a 911 emergency.
You'd still have to have a cell signal. It appears that the city's approach was, probably necessarily, ham-handed in that they simply shut off the equipment. They have no access to the actual carrier's multiplexing equipment where they could in a more elegant manner turn off the exact services they wanted to. Hence the 911 interruption. I doubt if this is over...a significant test case may come from it.
Comes in handy at movie theaters when the person behind me attempts to narrate the entire movie to his buddies. Cuts him off in under 10 seconds and leaves him with a "Out of Service Area" until I turn the jammer off.
To me the solution is to leave the service, but bring as much police force as necessary that is ready and willing to use their guns.
doc1019:I'm fine with that, as long as you can get guns out of the hands of criminals first.
To doc1019: WTH??? I thought there was a RKBA. Period.
Explain your answer.
Do people have the right to use commercial wireless services (that cross state lines btw) to coordinate possible illegal activity? Does the BART have the right to curtail unauthorized electronic communication from their premises? Is use of a phone “a right”? So many questions...
Electronic Frontier Foundation weighs in: “BART Pulls a Mubarak in San Francisco”
WTF? With a belief like that, you don't belong on this forum. FR is about freedom, liberty and our Constitution. Just what part of our Second Amendment do you not understand?
So, you are saying that everyone, including criminals should have the right to carry arms? Or get rid of all guns in the US? If the later is the case, how do you get rid of guns owned by criminals?
I guess I should have added the /s to my comment. I own guns, am a strong believer in the 2nd amendment. However, if we are of a mind to get rid of all guns (as the post suggested), we will have to get rid of all the guns that are in the hands of criminals ... ain’t going to happen.
American authorities have learned something from the London riots
I wouldn’t have expected anything else from the lame cities, counties and state government of California. Seems like they’ve got the jump on New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and other third world cities.
Enemies of America are adept at using our freedoms against us. Freedom of speech and association are subverted to serve the purposes of the opposition as in this case. Next thing that happens is a judge gets to rule on “the constitutionality” of depriving our enemies of their “civil rights”.
Notwithstanding your attempted 'save' and B.S. spin, you seem to accept the above statement as acceptable.
No, you do not support the Second Amendment. You are a fraud.
For different reasons, the federal courts (and some local/state) confiscate cell phones with cameras from non-lawyers. The cameras have to be kept in a locker or other secured spot with guards until the owner leaves the court house.
Most public events open with a request to turn off cell phones. That’s not disabling as it seems BART has done.
I will make it legal.
OK, if you say so. I would say “b$te me”, but I’m not allowed to get personal on FR, so I won’t ... having served honorably in the military, I go to sleep every night knowing that I served to save the constitution of the US and believe in all it’s parts. Have a great day.
No, they turned off the power to the radio equipment which makes any call possible. So they turned off the 911 service as well as any other service - including text messages, etc.
Stupid move if you ask me, because it endangers anyone who might have needed to receive a call or make a call, even a call for help.
And of course telling the world about it is even more stupid. Now any criminal or terrorist knows that you can turn off the ability for people to call 911 from a BART station by just turning off the power to a local cell which covers the station.
The idea of turning off communications, including that used by innocent people to get help in an emergency, just because it might reduce the ability of trouble makers to organize is a really bad idea.
Me: For criminals behind bars or out on probation or as part of a sentence in a court - No. Everyone else - Yes
doc1019: Or get rid of all guns in the US?
Me: Huh??? YOU were the one who said that YOU were "fine with that, as long as you can get guns out of the hands of criminals first."
doc1019: If the later is the case, how do you get rid of guns owned by criminals?
Me: You get guns out of criminals' hand by Due Process of Law as I described above; or failing that, by armed citizens getting rid of the criminals.
Now, please reconcile a) your position of being fine with ridding the country of guns to stop gun violence if certain conditions are met, with b) the fact that we have the Second Amendment guaranteeing the RKBA.
Why don’t you go to bed and sleep it off?
If we are of a mind to get rid of all guns, then let's get rid of all those in criminal hands first.
But since this is obviously not possible, therefore, we can not possibly be of a mind to get rid of all guns. There is no need to call someone a fraud who expresses the above.
Do people have the right to use commercial wireless services (that cross state lines btw) to coordinate possible illegal activity?
They have the right to use their phones, which they pay for, and for which they have a legal right to use for any purpose which is not by itself illegal. So of course they can't use their phones for wire fraud, or conspiracy, or a host of other things. But "possible" isn't "an" illegal activity. And organizing a protest, whether or not the local laws supposedly prohibit it, may be protected speech under the 1st amendment.
In this case, the more important question is "Is it OK to disrupt the wireless service of people who just wanted to use their phones for normal, legitimate purposes?"
Does the BART have the right to curtail unauthorized electronic communication from their premises?
Since they curtailed all communications, probably not. There is a bit of a gray area since apparently they had some control over the cell base stations, in that they were located on their property. But typically federal law prohibits disrupting cell phone systems by any means, including signal jamming. You can be sure that turning the power off to a cell tower is not something you could do because you felt like it unless you had some kind of contractual basis to do so with the companies whose cell stations were affected.
BART also has very limited rights to "curtail" what might be "unauthorized" communication. Nobody needs to be "authorized" to express their opinion. And monitoring speech on phones to detect what you call "unauthorized" speech is illegal without a warrant. Even with a warrant I don't think the government can disrupt a call, they can only monitor it.
I imagine they have a disclaimer on the reliability of their service, but if somebody had a heart attack and died because nobody could call 911 I think a jury might well find them liable.
Is use of a phone a right?
Under the 1st amendment, yes. Preventing free speech in advance is certainly an infringement of the right to free speech. It is the same as turning off the power to a newspaper so it can't print tomorrow's paper, or shutting off the power to a data center so a web based forum is shut down. The BART guys may have a slight chance of arguing that they can turn off phone service in their facility at will, but I doubt the voters who fund them will stand for it.
Obviously you have picked me to be your target for tonight, guess I should be honored.
Did you serve in the military?
So I'm not surprised that you're running from the questions being put to you on this thread.
I have run from nothing. However you didn’t answer my question ... did you serve in the military?
You just seem to be obsessed with something I said, something I qualified by apologizing for not putting a /s after my comment. Are you a stalker or what?
Shees, miss a /s and you are crucified by a stalker.
We want government to control nothing and everything at the same time.
How does this stop a riot?
You just seem to be obsessed with something I said, something I qualified by apologizing for not putting a /s after my comment.
Fair enough, I can see your point. I retract my criticism.
At lest you are willing to admit that you have never served in the military, the beginning of honesty and a reasonable dialogue.
And stop whining about your sarcasm being missed. It was piss-poor sarcasm.
If digital messaging of some kind is used to organize a crime, does that meet the legal definition of a conspiracy?
Is it any different from Mubarak cutting cell service to try to stop the revolution?
Cutting communications in the face of popular uprising is the hallmark of a totalitarian state.
Because the idiot thugs are sheeple, too. No idea what to do, who to rob, what to steal without being told do to so.
I could stop a riot by dropping a nuke. But, would it be appropriate?