Referencing the August, 2011 wireless shutdown by the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority during protests in San Francisco, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday announced his agency is seeking public comments on intentional interruptions of wireless services by government authorities.
The FCC, as the agency with oversight of our communications networks, is committed to preserving their availability and protecting the public, Genachowski said.
“Our democracy, our society, and our safety all require communications networks that are available and open. Any interruption of wireless services raises serious legal and policy issues, and must meet a very high bar,” the chairman said in a statement.
Last month, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, introduced SB 1160 that would restrict local government and agencies’ abilities to interrupt or shutdown mobile service without court review. Padilla’s office cited the BART shutdown as an impetus for SB 1160. The agency shut down service in BART stations to prevent protest organizers from coordinating via cell phone, according to the BART web site. Since the protest, the BART Board has adopted a policy allowing such shutdowns in specific cases, according to Padilla’s office.