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Government Asks When It Can Shut Down Wireless Communications 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-after-we-vote-you-all-out-of-office dept.
Fluffeh writes "Around nine months ago, BART Police asked to have wireless communications disabled (PDF) between Trans Bay Tube Portal and the Balboa Park Station. That was because they knew a public protest was to take place there — and the service to the underground communication system was disabled. This affected not only cellphone signals, but also the radio systems of Police, Fire and Ambulance crews (PDF) within the underground. This led to an even larger protest at a BART station and many folks filed complaints along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FCC responded by launching a probe into the incident. The results were a mixed bag of 'To protect citizens!' and 'Only in extreme cases,' not to mention the classic 'Terrorists use wireless communications!' But even if the probe doesn't lead to a full proceeding and formal order, the findings may well be used as a guide for many years to come."
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Government Asks When It Can Shut Down Wireless Communications

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:10PM (#39933071)

    it's clear that the big wireless companies are willing to shut down service—but they want the government to offer some direction. "Verizon Wireless understands that there may be some cases where shutting down wireless service to an area is necessary," the company wrote to the FCC on May 1. "In such cases, wireless carriers need a process for ensuring that the decision to shut down the network has been appropriately vetted and that the request comes from a single, reliable source."

    In other words, as long as it comes from a recognized government official, we'll be happy to comply.

    I think that's the same policy telcos have in Egypt and Syria, no?

  • Never? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:12PM (#39933105)
    It's easy to say "never", but we all could come up with scenarios where it might save lives to cut off service. The big question is "will they ever know about a threat far enough in advance to stop it by cutting cell service?" Probably not.

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