Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

FCC Launches Inquiry Into BART Wireless Service Shutdown

The Federal Communications Commission said Monday it would investigate the circumstances of a shutdown of a wireless network run by San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system during a protest last Thursday.

BART authorities said they shut down parts of a wireless phone network in four of the system’s stations as part of a tactic to slow down the efforts of protesters, and that they did it because protesters had said they would use mobile devices to “coordinate their disruptive activities.” Such a disruption, BART officials argued, could lead to overcrowding on train platforms and cause “unsafe conditions,” fears of which justified the move.

The National Journal reports the FCC is looking into the shutdown of wireless service, but as yet is only “collecting information” about the actions that were taken. “Any time communications services are interrupted, we seek to assess the situation,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The protests were in response to the fatal shooting by BART police on July 3 of a man who allegedly pulled a knife on the officers. BART officials say they’re on solid legal ground. Meanwhile, another protest is planned for tonight.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik