updated 08:00 pm EDT, Fri August 12, 2011
BART takes illegal cell phone blocking action
The Bay Area Rapid Transit have been caught illegally blocking the areas cell phone service as it tried to disrupt protestors organizing a rally in the wake of the shooting death of Charles Hill at Civic Center Station. The Electronic Frontier Foundation described the BART shutdown in a tweet as being a "...chilling strike against free speech." BART's action is said to have violated Federal Law, in particular Section 333 of The Communications Act of 1934.
The Act states that:
"[n]o person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this Act or operated by the United States Government."
However, BART had no such authorization before it took the decision to interrupt local cell phone services.
In response, BART issued this statement:
"Cell phone service was not interrupted outside BART stations. In addition, numerous BART Police officers and other BART personnel were present during the planned protest, and train intercoms and white courtesy telephones remained available for customers seeking assistance or reporting suspicious activity."
Although BART claims that its action was lawful, the organization has not been able to point to any legislation that would vindicate their course of action. It remains to be seen what action, if any, the FCC will take against the BART officers responsible for initiating the action. [via SF Gate]