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Is cellphone use considered free-speech?Follow

#1 Aug 16 2011 at 8:55 AM Rating: Good
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This is kind of interesting:

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) 'turned off' cellphone use in the subways. Supposedly this was done to preempt the organization of protests following a controversial shooting by a BART officer.

The official word from BART is that it's necessary for safety.
Quote:
BART officials maintain that the shutdown was intended to keep its service running and subway riders safe.


Anyway the FCC is investigating the intentional interruption of communication services.

Was BART justified and/or within their rights in jamming cellphone signals in their subways?






Edited, Aug 16th 2011 4:55pm by Elinda
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#2 Aug 16 2011 at 9:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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Is their use considered free speech? I don't think so. Of course, I don't know who owns BART anyway so it may be a moot point from a First Amendment perspective.

I won't pretend to know the FCC regulations in the matter but I'd assume that ******** with transmissions is never taken with a smile. My understanding according to the article though is that BART turned off relays that allow cellphones to be used within the concrete/underground structures. In other words, you can only use cell phones there because BART provides the additional actively-operating infrastructure to allow them to work.

Does BART have an obligation to provide this service?
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#3 Aug 16 2011 at 9:24 AM Rating: Excellent
One concern would be access to emergency services. I'd assume that BART being the organization running the service there, they would be helping to get emergency services activated anyway, so that might be a moot point.

It's different to turn off cell phones during an emergency when people are already notified, rather then turning them off when they might need to be used to alert people about an emergency.

I don't think it's a free speech issue though.

Edited, Aug 16th 2011 10:24am by Xsarus
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#4 Aug 16 2011 at 9:27 AM Rating: Excellent
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The article says that the land line phones (including pay phones) were operational as well as intercom services.

But I agree that, if there's an emergency, you're going to waste valuable time dorking with your cell phone before it occurs to you to go seeking a payphone.
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#5 Aug 16 2011 at 9:32 AM Rating: Excellent
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I just see the added benefit of not having to overhear multiple conversation about what someone is going to have for lunch.
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#6 Aug 16 2011 at 9:51 AM Rating: Decent
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How would this affect the organization of protests?
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#7 Aug 16 2011 at 9:58 AM Rating: Good
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Peimei wrote:
How would this affect the organization of protests?


Texting and Twitter I guess?
#8 Aug 16 2011 at 10:03 AM Rating: Decent
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Ravashack wrote:
Peimei wrote:
How would this affect the organization of protests?


Texting and Twitter I guess?

You need to be in the subway to organize?
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MNK: "OK we're gonna go in and get those items."
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#9 Aug 16 2011 at 10:08 AM Rating: Excellent
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Peimei wrote:
How would this affect the organization of protests?

You'd have to step outside?
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#10 Aug 16 2011 at 10:12 AM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
Peimei wrote:
How would this affect the organization of protests?

You'd have to step outside?

Precisely.
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MNK: "OK we're gonna go in and get those items."
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#11 Aug 16 2011 at 10:15 AM Rating: Decent
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I had read about a (sensationalist-driven) version of this story yesterday. Apparently Anonymous decided this was a pretty big deal and published a list of subscribers to BART's website (which is totally a great way of "punishing" BART, right?).

Regardless, I don't see the use of the phones as a freedom of speech thing, nor do I think that BART is obligated to provide the service. However, I am pretty sure they came out and admitted to temporarily suspending the service only to prevent a protest. From source:
MSNBC Story wrote:
BART cut power to its wireless nodes Thursday night after learning demonstrators planned to use social media and text messaging to protest police brutality.


From that standpoint, eh. I think it's a moral gray area. The reasoning given was to protect the users of the service, but I think they could have handled themselves in a much better way.

Further reading, it appears that protests in the subway are illegal in that area. Why not let the idiots protest and get arrested, if they're going to do so illegally? I'm all for protecting people, but the folks at BART tossed themselves up on the chopping block.

Edited, Aug 16th 2011 12:17pm by ChanchanXI
#12 Aug 16 2011 at 10:22 AM Rating: Excellent
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ChanchanXI wrote:
Further reading, it appears that protests in the subway are illegal in that area. Why not let the idiots protest and get arrested, if they're going to do so illegally?

The hassle of a protesting mob in the subway isn't worth the smug satisfaction of a handful of people getting charged with misdemeanors.
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#13 Aug 16 2011 at 10:25 AM Rating: Good
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ChanchanXI wrote:
Further reading, it appears that protests in the subway are illegal in that area. Why not let the idiots protest and get arrested, if they're going to do so illegally? I'm all for protecting people, but the folks at BART tossed themselves up on the chopping block.

Edited, Aug 16th 2011 12:17pm by ChanchanXI


Well, presumably, it'd be BART officers that'd be tasked with doing that arresting. I can see the logic in trying to preemptively stop protests, thereby avoiding the risk of confrontations for their police force. Seems the very reason that they were getting the flak was because of their police force...might be best not to put the object of people's ire right in front of them, and then ask them to start arresting those people in a crowd.

Seems like sound enough logic, just probably the wrong way of going about it.

Edited, Aug 16th 2011 12:26pm by Eske
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#14 Aug 17 2011 at 7:52 AM Rating: Good
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Technically BART didn't prohibit cellphone use. There may be some super-cell phones out there that can pick-up a signal while underground (sans a repeater).

I'm not sure what their obligation is to provide the service.

I just think it was stupid - stupid like taking a bowl of food away from a large starving dog.
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#15 Aug 17 2011 at 10:21 AM Rating: Decent
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Is this a joke? If cell phone use is considered a right protected under the first amendment, then why aren't we providing government issued phones to the masses? Smiley: confused

I don't understand. A lot of loose analogies can be drawn. Gun possession is a protected right, but just about any establishment has their own right to ban guns on their premises. And, in the same sense, this company was trying to prevent inevitable disruption of their services.

And since when does anything Anonymous do deserve 1/10th of the attention it gets?
#16 Aug 17 2011 at 10:29 AM Rating: Excellent
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lolgaxe wrote:
I just see the added benefit of not having to overhear multiple conversation about what someone is going to have for lunch.


Seriously I'd settle for lunch conversations over details of who's having which surgery, why the insurance company sucks, and 'why is so-and-so having another kid'. Smiley: rolleyes
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