Shutting down cell phones by BART not such a good idea

BART statement on killing wireless service in stations on Aug. 11, in anticipation of civil unrest
[Via Boing Boing]

Finally, here is BART’s cop-out explanation for why they shut down wireless service in Bay Area stations on Aug. 11.

BART temporarily interrupted service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform.

Cell phone service was not interrupted outside BART stations. In addition, numerous BART Police officers and other BART personnel with radios were present during the planned protest, and train intercoms and white courtesy telephones remained available for customers seeking assistance or reporting suspicious activity.

Good thing the Bay Area subway system operators are taking a cue from Hosni Mubarak! Because, you know, if an actual riot had occurred, it’s not like anyone affected would have had any need to communicate for help or anything.


There will be a lot of push back against what I am sure BART thought was a good idea. As noted, if there had been an emergency, no one could have called. Imagine the lawsuit BARY would be seeing if someone had a heart attack after they had shut down the cell phones.

Plus, all the protestors have to do now is simply let BART know when a ‘protest’ will be. BART shuts down the cell phones, disrupting their use. The protestors do not even need to show up. They can cause disruptions simply by giving BART dates.

This attempt to control cell phones by authority — something tried by Mubarak in Egypt, contemplated by Cameron in England and no performed in America – is simply counter to what makes for good democracy.

Meanwhile, the Manchester police used social media to deal with the looters. The thing about using a cell phone — there is now a record of what was sent when. Makes for better evidentiary hearings, both for exculpatory evidence or for convictions.

Shutting down technology will only drive the information underground to areas where legitimate authority cannot easily find it.