Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Protestors Kept at Bay

Susan Crawford, on the new legal challenge before the FCC; the commission will determine whether it’s okay for a city to shut down cell service to hinder civil protests. She writes:

At issue is the termination of cell-phone service by San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system on Aug. 11. It acted to thwart a protest about a shooting of a passenger by BART police. A host of consumer advocates and digital civil-rights groups have filed an emergency petition, asking the FCC to step in.

As far as anyone knows, no government agency in the U.S. had cut off general-purpose communications before BART took this step. The question before the FCC is whether BART’s action violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which prohibits discontinuing or impairing service without due process.

The whole piece is great. Read the rest of it on Bloomberg’s site. It’s hard not to sound hyperbolic when describing measures taken by an Egyptian dictator and later adopted by an American city agency, but both BART and the San Francisco protestors claimed the Constitution favored their position. I suppose that’s one thing the Egyptian protestors didn’t have. That, and Guy Fawkes masks.