August 15th, 2011
07:06 PM ET

BART defends cutting cell service to defuse protest

An official with San Francisco's rapid transit system stood by the decision to shut off cell phone service ahead of a protest, not ruling out a similar move in response to a planned demonstration Monday.

The decision drew widespread criticism and stirred the well-known hacking group Anonymous to stage an "operation" Sunday. The group urged those supporting its cause to attend a "peaceful protest" Monday.

The FCC says it is investigating the matter.

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Filed under: California • San Francisco • Security breaches • Technology
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. leeintulsa

    How hard is it to organize *before* you get to the train station, anyway?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    @leeintulsa: hi and yes,thatis exactly what happened. They had relays set up as a SERVICE to their patrons which enabled passengers to use cell phones underground . They shut off their own relays.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      According to the FCC website it is illegal for even police to interfere with wireless communications. Started in 1934 & updated in 2011 ... the 1934 Communications Act prohibits local and state law enforcement to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with any wireless communications to thwart criminal and terrorist acts. .so does BART think that they are above the LAW? What if there was a medical emergency & the BART blackout prevented emergency officials from taking action. This is just one of many similar safeguards in place today. THE FCC SHOULD ARREST ALL BART EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN THE WIRELESS SHUTDOWNS.

      August 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fernace

    Was this protest so poorly planned that BART shutting off cell access caused the whole thing to fizzle? Were they planning to protest In the BART station? I must have missed something in this story, because I can recall the days of No cell phones at all (yes, there were actually times like that), & people who wanted to have a protest or rally did it, no problem!!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. protest

    And we make fun of each other for protesting too.

    August 16, 2011 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Psyop

    The point is BART purposefully disabled communication in an attempt to prevent the protests. They may argue it's theircomm relay in their subway stations. BUT it's ACTUALLY the peoples relays in the PEOPLE's subway stations. The FCC and Justice Department needs to give BART the smackdown and set a precedent.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Um, I'm pretty sure if BART wants to shut down their own equipment, especially to avert a potential tragedy, they can.
    And they did.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. saywhat

    Well this may become a precedent for other protests which are otherwise a right in a 'democracy'.
    Or did that become questionable under the Patriot Act & such.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jsteve

    A member of the group Anonymous working on Operation BART was interviewed on Democracy Now! He sad that by making public the information of BART passengers, they were only exposing a security hole which already existed in BART's system and that even non-hackers could have gotten then passenger's information. They interviewed an ACLU attorney on the show too who talked about the cell phone shutdown incident. Here's the Anonymous interview:

    August 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FLgryphon

    It seems this story has legs of it's own on a slow news day. Bart provides the "amenity" of having cell phone service to customers and this has only been available for a few years. Since its an amenity, they don't have to guarantee that it will always be working or "ON". Would this be an issue if lightning caused an outage for 2 weeks? Is this really a free speech issue if you can go outside of the station and your phone will work just fine? Is this being made a free speech issue because it's a slow news day. I don't remember CNN making an issue of this same topic when Giuliani did the same thing in New York during the years following 9/11?

    August 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
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