On August 11, 2011, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), leery of expected protests and
demonstrations in its stations, shut down barred access to cellular communications,
disrupted mobile phone and data service to a massive number of consumers for
up to four hours.
Now Public Knowledge, and other public interest
organisations, are calling for the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to immediately find BART violated federal law, and to “clarify that
local government agencies may not interfere with access to mobile phone
In the petition, the groups say, “The Commission must act immediately to
clarify that local governments do not have blanket authority to interrupt
access to [mobile phone] networks. Allowing local governments to interrupt
access to wireless communications networks threatens the stability of the
network, endangers public safety, and infringes the right of members of the
public to access the phone system.
“Recent statements by BART directors, as well as the possibility that
other local jurisdictions may act to interfere with mobile phone networks
in similar situations, demonstrates that the Commission must not wait on the
outcome of its investigation into this specific incident to clarify the law
generally, say the public interest groups, alsoNoting it’s been “settled law for decades” that local
government agencies have no authority to shut down mobile phone service on
mere suspicion of illegal activity without due process.
The petition is available here: