When should the government shut down your phones?

Marc Sanchez Mar 5, 2012

Stemming from last year’s cell phone signal scrambling, introduced by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) during protests in their terminals, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on cell phone interruptions. The FCC wants to see what the pros and cons of intentional disruptions of wireless service by a “government authority.”

If you ask BART officials, its actions last summer were necessary, because protesters were using their mobile devices to stay one step ahead of police and disrupt service. The protesters argue that having their service blocked puts them and anybody else in the station in danger. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Other law-enforcement agencies have suggested that shutting off cellular signals would be useful in controlling ‘flash mobs,’ groups who coordinate their actions over phones, email or social media networks. While many flash mobs are benign, there were some instances last year of criminals using them to coordinate attacks or robberies.”


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